The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cyborg to ‘marry’ man and machine

Bangalore, Oct. 18 (PTI): A revolution is happening in the world of science that could see human beings integrate with machines and help them increase memory capacity and even enable paralysed individuals work independently, Kevin Warvick, the world’s first cyborg — part man, part machine — said here today.

The experiments conducted by Warvick, professor of cybernetics at University of Reading, UK, are aimed at providing mankind with the facility of thought communication besides enabling him to think in multiple dimensions and senses.

In two progressive experiments in 1998 and 2002, 48-year-old Warvick showed that a silicon chip transponder implanted in the main nerve canal of his left arm could operate and give signals to a computer, which in turn could open doors or even control the lighting systems of his house.

In March, Warvick effectively became the world’s first cyborg when he had a miniature computer implanted into the main nerve canal of his arm through a surgery that involved implanting a silicon square into the incision. A hundred electrodes, each as thin as hair, were hammered into the incision to connect with the median nerve to receive electric signals from the brain.

“By linking the nervous system to the technology through an implant, human beings could control and interact with technologies merely by thinking,” he explained in a presentation here.

Warvick said this was possible by inserting the microelectrode array into his nervous system. With that in place, he and his research team networked his nervous system by a radio frequency identification device to a computer, which in turn was connected to the Internet.

With the two experiments successfully carried out, Warvick can not only control his environment even thousands of kilometres away but can also communicate through electric pulse stimulation with his wife who also had a similar implant.

In his presentation at the National Institute of Advanced Studies organised by the British Council here, he said the implications of this technology were far reaching.

“My main aim is to get an implant in the brain, which would enable even thoughts to be exchanged and increase memory and calculation capacity,” he said.

Human beings were not competing with machines like in the case of robotics. “In this case, the human being integrates with the machine to control things.”

Warvick said, with this technology in place, he was also able to drive a smart wheel chair around, implying the significant use of this technology to paraplegics and the physically handicapped.

He said this technology would enable human beings to think in hundreds of dimensions (humans think only in three dimensions with the fourth being time), and sense the world in several ways other than through the five known senses.

While Warvick’s main aim is to try the experiment on himself, to implant a silicon chip in his brain, he said he would do so only 12 years from now when he would be 60.

He said at least 80 per cent of the people who have come to know about his $500,000 project are willing to volunteer to have similar implants. The hardware cost of the project came to a mere $1,000, he added.

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