Kevin Warwick (UK)
BIO-CHIP: Building the Cyborg

Being born human - a simple accident of fate, a condition merely of time and place?

Information and Bio Technologies have provided mankind with the power to transcend the confines of humanity. A small silicon chip, as conventionally used in personal computers and other devices of modern day life, is enough to fuse flesh and machine. An implant inserted into the upper inside of the arm, beneath the inner layer of skin and on top of the muscle, is the upgrade of mankind. Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, is the first human ever to become one with his computer. The silicon chip implanted into the professor's arm allowed a computer to monitor him moving through the halls and departments of the University building. The implant communicated via radio waves with a network of antennas throughout the facility and in turn transmitted the signals received to a computer programmed to correspond to the Warwick's movements: like in a magic act, doors opened when Professor Warwick approached, and closed when he left, or the lights went on or off automatically. The aim of the successful experiment was to find out whether a computer and an implanted chip could communicate with each other.

On March 14th, 2002 at 8.30 am, the experiment was taken a step further when a microelectrode array was implanted onto the median nerve in Professor Warwick’s wrist. This new implant contains 100 spikes with sensitive tips that all have direct connections to Warwick’s nerve fibres. There are wires connected to the array that have been tunneled up Kevin's Arm. They appear through a skin puncture and are to be linked to a novel radio transmitter/receiver. This device will be externally connected with the aim of joining Kevin's median nerve to a computer by means of a radio signal. Prof. Warwick and his fellow researchers hope that the project will generate medical benefits for a great number of people, in particular for the spinally injured, and they are also looking into enhancing capabilities when a human and machine are joined – when Cyborgs emerge.