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Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Published at 12:35 GMT


Scientist puts computer in control

Could computer technology control the professor's body?

A cybernetics expert is planning to hand over control of his body to a computer in the latest of his high profile experiments.

Professor Kevin Warwick is to have a silicon implant inserted in his arm in an attempt to find out whether the computer will be able to move his limbs by copying signals from his brain.

And he is considering a similar experiment to see if a computer could control his emotions.

[ image: Last year's experiment was a success]
Last year's experiment was a success
It follows an experiment last year in which the Reading University scientist had a chip put in his arm to assess whether a computer could follow his movements around the university.

Following the success of that experiment, Professor Warwick, no stranger to controversy, is connecting his nervous system to a computer.

He hopes that when he moves, the chip will intercept the relevant signals from his brain and transmit them to a computer.

The computer will then return the signals to see if the professor's limbs move.

The BBC's Mike Thomson: "Professor Warwick is no stranger to controversial surgery"
And he is planning to go even further with brain signals which express emotion so the computer can direct his moods as well.

Last year's experiment was believed to be the first of its kind.

The professor said he took part in the experiment to highlight some of the dangers of the technology.

Silicon chips are already used to identify animals such as lost pets and animals which have received vaccinations.

[ image: Professor Warwick: May hand his emotions over to a computer too]
Professor Warwick: May hand his emotions over to a computer too
A digital reader can pick up a unique code for the device which is placed under the skin.

But the implants being used by Professor Warwick's body are more sophisticated, with sensors able to pinpoint his location and even switch on lights automatically when he enters a room on campus.

He said last year's experiment was aimed at demonstrating the dangers of pushing the frontiers of technology forward.

He said the positive aspect of the experiment was that it pointed to a future in which people could be helped around large buildings, but there were also negative "big brother issues".

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Professor Kevin Warwick

Professor Warwick's 1998 experiment

Department of Cybernetics, Reading University

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