Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at Reading University, is a well known and celebrated UK scientist. His pioneering research into neural implants has led to him receiving his own implant which linked his nervous system to the internet, in effect making him a human cyborg.
Warwick delivered a public lecture at the recent Christmas event of the South Wales branch of the British Computer Society, organised by ITWales and held at the National Waterfront Museum. In his presentation to an audience of more than 200, Warwick discussed his own implants and the ethical issues surrounding the possible future of “upgraded humans”.
Following the lecture, Professor Warwick spoke to Sali Earls about his work, his media notoriety and his plans for the future.
The idea of cybernetics sounds a bit like science fiction to many. How would you define your subject?
Cybernetics is historically defined as controls and communications in humans and machines, and for me in the subject that really involves humans and technology interacting in many ways. Particularly in biomedical areas – the use of technology for medicine, and helping people in one way or another – but also looking at all sorts of technological entities from a systems point of view, and how it operates when a human is in the loop. So, this includes things like robotics and artificial intelligence – one of my main interests.
It does overlap with science fiction. I think science fiction in this area particularly is looking to the future, to the world of intelligent machines, and questioning how that compares with human intelligence; and the world of cyborgs – cybernetic organisms – part human, part machine which is tremendously exciting and something I’m keen to get involved with more and more.
Read More: Kevin Warwick: The ITWales Interview