All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for January 2004

Beyond the LIGHT

Jan 19, 2004
Reshma Patil
Mumbai Newsline

STANDING by his hotel window, Kevin Warwick misses his computer, left behind in the UK. The machine was once part of his nervous system.

When Warwick is wired, he’s a cyborg. Part human, part machine.

Cut to 2050 where cars drive by the power of thought. And cyborgs chat by thought, not telephone.

‘‘Possible.’’ Why not? This cybernetics professor’s experiments at the UK’s University of Reading make Michael Crichton’s stories seem like science non-fiction.

“Ethically more tricky than cloning, it’s like creating a potentially new species,’’ Warwick told Newsline. ‘‘Humans will be stupid in comparison.’’

Soon, his Cyborg 3.0 neurosurgeons will implant a silicon chip in the brain of a UK patient suffering from multiple sclerosis so the man—paralysed neck down—can operate a wheelchair and run household gadgets by sending neurosignals to a computer.

‘‘The implant must be permanent,’’ he explains. ‘‘It could be dangerous to remove it.’’ Inadvisable for teens.

So do machines think? Warwick’s computer crashed when 666 was fed in as a code for his first implant. His inbox is jammed with e-mails from volunteers for a 10-year Cyborg 4.0 experiment. An Indian would be perfect, he says, to understand complexity of thought across races and cultures.

With implanted brain chips, the volunteer and Warwick could communicate by thought, if within 10 mt of a computer. ‘‘First, nobody believed everybody would want cellphones. So why not implants?’’ says the author of In The Mind of the Machines.

Where does this future leave humans not wired? ‘‘Intellectually equivalent to chimpanzees or dogs.’’

© Copyright 2004, Mumbai Newsline