Kevin Warwick (Cybernetics)

Date: 
Thursday 28/February 14:00

The Cyborg Experiments

In this presentation a practical look is taken at how the use of implant and electrode technology can be employed to create biological brains for robots, to enable human enhancement and to diminish the effects of certain neural illnesses. In all cases the end result is to increase the range of abilities of the recipients. An indication is given of a number of areas in which such technology has already had a profound effect, a key element being the need for a clear interface linking a biological brain directly with computer technology.

The emphasis is clearly placed on experimental scientific studies that have been and are being undertaken and reported on. The area of focus is notably the need for a biological/technological connection, where a link is made directly with the cerebral cortex and/or nervous system. The presentation will consider the future in which robots have biological, or part-biological, brains and in which neural implants link the human nervous system bi-directionally with technology and the internet.

Biography: 

Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England, where he carries out research in artificial intelligence, control, robotics and cyborgs. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the IET.

Kevin was born in Coventry, UK and left school to join British Telecom, at the age of 16. At 22 he took his first degree at Aston University, followed by a PhD and research post at Imperial College, London. He subsequently held positions at Oxford, Newcastle and Warwick Universities before being offered the Chair at Reading, at the age of 33.

As well as publishing over 500 research papers, Kevin’s experiments into implant technology led to him being featured as the cover story on the US magazine, ‘Wired’.

Kevin has been awarded higher earned doctorates (DSc) both by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Universities of Aston, Coventry, Bradford, Robert Gordon, Bedfordshire and Portsmouth. He was presented with The Future of Health Technology Award in MIT, was made an Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, and has received The IEE Senior Achievement Medal, the Mountbatten Medal and the Ellison-Cliffe Medal. In 2000 Kevin presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled “The Rise of the Robots”.

Kevin’s research involves the invention of an intelligent deep brain stimulator to counteract the effects of Parkinson Disease tremors. The tremors are predicted and a current signal is applied to stop the tremors before they start – this is to be trialled in human subjects. Another project involves the use of cultured/biological neural networks to drive robots around – the brain of each robot is made of neural tissue.

Perhaps Kevin is though best known for his pioneering experiments involving a neuro-surgical implantation into the median nerves of his left arm to link his nervous system directly to a computer to assess the latest technology for use with the disabled. He was successful with the first extra-sensory (ultrasonic) input for a human and with the first purely electronic telegraphic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans.