Paxman vs Warwick: Radio 4 special

Guess who comes off best

Ole Captain Cyborg, Kevin Warwick, got more than he bargained for on Radio 4 yesterday morning. Leaping at another opportunity for publicity, he went on the Start The Week programme and was faced by rottweiler interviewer Jeremy Paxman.

Unfortunately, Paxman wasn't as well briefed as he could have been and so had to content himself with throwing Warwick around like a rag-doll rather than going for the jugular. All the same, it was good to see Kev finally faced with disbelieving opposition.

It started off with Kev's new consumer-friendly explanation as to what he does. "There are now much closer links between machines and humans," he said, before quoting hip replacements, pacemakers and eye operations as examples. It is only a matter of time before we use machines to improve us mentally.

"That's a bit of a leap," said Paxman, sneering and snorting with typical panache. Paxo asked what the point of Kev's infamous chip was. "It was about experiencing what an implant was like," Kev said before listing the usual jumble of doors opening, something or other saying "Hello, Captain Cyborg", and computers turning on.

Paxman didn't have the info and missed the bared neck. "Nothing that an old-fashioned human couldn't do then," he said, disappointingly.

Kev then went off on one talking about thinking "outside the box" and makes the same nonsense claims about the next chip linking to his nervous system, blah, blah, blah.

Paxman unleashed the line he'd been waiting to use: "You're either a visionary genius, or a publicity-crazed lunatic; I'm not sure which at present."

Kev blanched. "I think everyone's scepticism is rather exaggerated," was all he could manage. Then there was something about thinking in more dimensions than the three we are currently confined to. Has Kev been watching Doctor Who this week?

Paxman goes a bit philosophical as well for a sec: "You suggest that this mutant human thing will express itself without speaking - but isn't speaking one of the defining characteristics of being human?" - before coming back to hard reality - "And all this despite the fact that no machine yet invented has ever succeeded in passing the Turing Test?"

Here we were hoping that Kev would come out with his insane debunking of the Turing Test - that machines will think differently, so to measure them in human terms is stupid of us - but he was obviously scared of another mauling and went for: "That is a separate issue altogether."

Kev then went on a doomsaying mission about the ultimate danger of machines. As well as Doctor Who, it was clear he had taken Terminator out on video this weekend as he launched into a machine vs machine war scenario (it was just us versus them before). You could almost see Paxman swirling his finger about the side of his head.

Kev finished off by yabbering on about brains connecting to computers and thought-control of objects. Paxman just puffed and got onto his next guest. ®

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