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But ZDNet and the BBC should know better

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And so dear old Kevin Warwick (professor of cybernetics at Reading University dontcha know), fresh from sapping the life-force out the poor young souls that watched the Royal Institutions' Christmas lectures, has found a new angle to get himself in the media spotlight.

What is really disappointing about his latest exploits, though, is that those responsible for letting the fool yabber on really should know better. So hold up your hands ZDNet UK and the BBC News online, and hang your heads in shame.

ZDNet has evidently gone crazy and decided that instead of breaking IT news, it would get every reporter to write short essays on artificial intelligence. Presumably these will be compiled in a small book entitled What ZDNot thinks about robots and stuff. There are currently nine (nine!) essays on AI in today's list of stories - most coming in exciting two-parters, and covering topics like "Can a human love a robot?"

Anyway, Kev has popped up in two of these and inspired a further three. "For cybernetic enthusiasts such as Professor Kevin Warwick, the worries about privacy take second place to the benefits to human understanding." Aha. Kev "certainly practises what he preaches" - well, in the sense that his robot experiments are as entrenched in reality as his predictions for the end of mankind.

Kev is also currently taking part in an experiment attempting to download human emotions onto a PC, we are informed. Which is an extension on his previous cock-and-bull tale about him communicating with his wife.

Mr Warwick also appears in the loving your robot section. "Humans have human emotions and robots have robot emotions. As soon as you allow robots to learn, you are opening up the possibility that they could develop their own emotions," he tells the reporter in his own unique sixth-form debating society approach. Ever one for the soundbite, Kev also says that in 20 years' time, it could be robots debating whether to let humans into their house!!! Oh Christ.

But ZDNet isn't the only one to blame. The BBC is at it again. The news online team had promised us they wouldn't use Kev anymore as a walking-talking quote machine, but then some of the best people on the team have since left and the old contacts book has been pulled out again.

Here Kev is explaining his expertise on Robocops. Some nutter in Thailand reckons he has built an armed guard robot. Roboguard "can shoot at will or wait for the order to fire from its human masters via the Internet", we are reliably informed. Even though it consists of nothing more than a gun and a small video camera on a moveable platform. Incredible.

The idea horrified British robotics experts, we are told. And sure enough, Kev is the British robotics experts. "Things can always go wrong. We need to think about introducing laws like Asimov's, but even then robots will find ways to get round them," he warned.

Asimov was a scientific sci-fi writer and the Roboguard inspired by the movie Robocop. Kev, on the other hand, is a sci-fi professor of cybernetics who lives in a film. ®

Related Links

ZDNet's love a robot today
More ZD Kev nonsense
BBC robocop story

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