Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics, University of Reading, UK
Date: February 19th
Location: McConomy Auditorium, Carnegie Mellon University
In this presentation a look will be taken at how the use of implant technology is rapidly diminishing the effects of certain neural illnesses and distinctly increasing the range of abilities of those affected. An indication will be given of a number of problem areas in which such technology has already had a profound effect, a key element being the need for a clear interface linking the human brain directly with a computer. However, in order to assess the possible opportunities, both human and animal studies from around the world will be reported on.
The main thrust will be an overview of Kevin's own research which has led to him receiving a neural implant which linked his nervous system bi-directionally with the internet. With this in place neural signals were transmitted to various technological devices to directly control them, in some cases via the internet, and feedback to the brain was obtained from such as the fingertips of a robot hand, ultrasonic (extra) sensory input and neural signals directly from another human's nervous system.
A view will be taken as to the prospects for the future, both in the short term as a therapeutic device and in the long term as a form of enhancement, including the realistic potential, in the near future, for thought communication - thereby opening up tremendous commercial potential. Clearly though, an individual whose brain is part human - part machine can have abilities that far surpass those who remain with a human brain alone. Will such an individual exhibit different moral and ethical values to those of a human? If so, what effects might this have on society?
Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics and carries out research in artificial intelligence, control, robotics and biomedical engineering. He is also Director of the University Knowledge Transfer Centre.
Kevin has been awarded higher doctorates (DScs) both by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. He was presented with The Future of Health Technology Award from MIT (USA), was made an Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, St.Petersburg, was awarded the University of Malta medal from the Edward de Bono Institute and in 2004 received The IEE Achievement Medal. In 2000 Kevin presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled "The Rise of The Robots". These lectures were repeated in 2001 in a tour of Japan, China and Korea.
Kevin carried out a series of pioneering experiments involving the neuro-surgical implantation of a device into the median nerves of his left arm in order to link his nervous system directly to a computer to assess the latest technology for use with the disabled. He was successful with the first extra-sensory (ultrasonic) input for a human and with the first purely electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans.
His research has been discussed by the US White House Presidential Council on BioEthics, The European Commission Group on Ethics in Science & Technology and has led to him being widely referenced and featured in academic circles as well as appearing as cover stories in several magazines - e.g. Wired (USA), The Week (India), I-Magazine (Germany), Mensa (UK) and L'Espresso (Spain).
His work is now used as material in advanced Level Physics courses in the UK and in many University courses including Harvard, Stanford, MIT & Tokyo. His implants are on permanent display in the Science Museums in London and Naples.
In 2005, apart from the Einstein Lecture, Kevin gave a total of 22 Invited Plenary/International Keynote addresses, including presentations in Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur, Poznan, Prague, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Coimbra, Leuven, Istanbul, Calgary, Eindhoven and Paris.
Kevin's research involves robotics and he is responsible (with Jim Wyatt) for Cybot, a robot exported around the world as part of a magazine "Real Robots" - this has resulted in royalties totalling over £1M for Reading University.
Robots designed and constructed by Kevin's group (Ian Kelly, Ben Hutt) are on permanent interactive display in the Science Museums in London, Birmingham and Linz.
Kevin was a member of the 2001 HEFCE (unit 29) RAE panel on Electrical & Electronic Engineering, is Deputy Chairman for the same panel (now unit 24) in the 2007/8 exercise and is a member of the EPSRC Peer College (since its inception). He has produced 500 publications on his research including more than 100 refereed journal articles and 25 books. Kevin received the EPSRC Millenium Award (2000) for his schools robot league project and is the youngest ever person to have been made a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute.
His research has featured in many TV and film documentaries, e.g. in 2005 - Inventions that changed the world (BBC2), Future Scope (RAI 1) and in The Making of I Robot (Twentieth Century Fox/Channel 5). He has appeared 3 times on Tomorrow's World, 5 times in Time magazine, twice in Newsweek and was selected by Channel 4 as one of the Top 6 UK Scientists for their 2001 Acclaim series "Living Science". In 2002 he was chosen by the IEE as one of the top 10 UK Electrical Engineers. Kevin also appeared as one of 30 "great minds on the future" in the THES/Oxford University book - Predictions - with J.K.Galbraith, Umberto Eco and James Watson.
Kevin's research is frequently referred to by other authors - recent examples being in books by Lord Robert Winston, Peter Cochrane, Jeremy Clarkson and Baroness Susan Greenfield. Kevin's research has also been selected by National Geographic International for a 1 hour documentary, entitled "I,Human" to be screened in Autumn 2006 - this will be broadcast in 143 countries and translated into 23 different languages.
Kevin has supervised a total of 38 successful PhD/research higher degree students. He sits on a number of international journal Editorial Boards, is regularly invited to sit on international conference programme committees and for 10 years acted as Honorary Editor of the IEE Proceedings on Control Theory and Applications. He is presently Visiting Professor at the Czech Technical University, Charles Square, Prague and in 2004 was Senior Beckman Fellow at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Kevin appears in the Google (and Yahoo) Directory as one of the top four people in the world in the field of Artificial Intelligence (Computers) - along with Alan Turing.