Captain Cyborg Lives!

Robots 1: Humans 0

Kevin Warwick, the nutty professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, has moved one step closer to man machine mind meld. He's had a microchip implanted into his arm, in a "ground-breaking attempt to create the world's first integrated data link between man and computer".

"If successful, the experiment...will show that it is possible to capture data signals such as movement commands and physical emotions including pain and pleasure and transmit them to other human beings."

That's a big "If". And when it comes to physical emotions that's a very big "If".

In a press release, Warwick says the experiment is a small step in harnessing computers to the human body. It also marks a giant step in the very public career of Captain Cyborg.

So what's the deal? Warwick will make some hand movements - yes that's what it says - which will then be stored on his microchip. This will then be replayed to the Captain, forcing him to make the same but this time involuntary hand movements.

"It will then be possible to transmit the Professor's original signals via the internet to other volunteers, who will experience the movements and physical emotions created by him via their own implanted arrays."

My God! There's more of them! Anyone care to tell us how hand movements translate into "physical emotions"?

Sponsoring the operation is a company called Tumbleweed. And we have a statement from Martyn Richards, vice president at the company: "We are proud to potentially be part of history in the making as for the first time ever, one human will be truly able to say to the other, 'I know how you feel!"

Ever get the feeling that you know that someone doesn't have a clue what they are talking about.

But wait, where there's a sponsor, there's a commercial opportunity. Tumbleweed, a specialist in secure communications, is providing the technology "vital to ensure the safe transmission of our nervous system signals via the internet," Captain Cyborg says.

"With real feelings flying across the Net from one person to an other via the internet, we have to be sure that the signals are transmitted safely and without unauthorised interception."

On a more modest level, Warwick reckons that the experiment could aid understanding of ways of helping paraplegic and other nerve-damaged sufferers. And on this score, he may well be right. Isn't he? Err, no, according to neurological experts interviewed by the New Scientist. They think his ambitions here are hopelessly overblown.
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