Bionic Implants: Kevin Warwick's Experiments Are Working

A scientist by the name of Kevin Warwick has been experimenting on himself with electronic implants. In his early experiments he had a chip implanted in him for weeks which was detected by sensors he placed around the university. He then trained the computers to do things like open doors for him and greet him when he came into a room or to make coffee when he got within a certain distance of the office. The world recognized him. Interactive reality.

If the story stopped here it wouldn’t be that interesting. We can get computers to recognize us using non-implanted badges or via biometrics and either one can be accomplished with no need for surgery. Warwick was barely even scratching the surface. He envisions being able to implant sensors in the nervous system and suspects it is possible to record and transmit these signals to other humans.

For the immediate future this technology would be most useful for amputees and parapalegics. After that the sky is the limit. He forsees people sharing “experiences”. “Since the human nervous system uses electrochemical signals, there’s no reason it can’t be made compatible with the electronic signals of a computer.” Intercept the impulses travelling through the nervous system send them to a computer and resend them to another nervous system. His most recent experiment seems to illustrate the viability of his ideas.

Up for debate here is the morality of using such devices, the plausability of such technology working to share perception, what this means for humanity if it does work, and what it says about the human experience.

I am particularly interested in what this adds to the Are We Individuals? debate. Suppose two people could be joined mentally. If they both share each others thoughts, feelings, and emotions are they still seperate? What happens if thousands or millions of people link and share their perception? Since we don’t know if this will work this is an interesting opportunity for each side to posit what might be found if their version of the truth holds true. If experience can be reduced to physical and mechanical events then we should be able to link two people’s brains in the future is my guess. I’m curious what the metaphysical camp would think it means if such link(s) were to occur. Would we now have one individual with a larger body? One which encompasssed two masses of bone and flesh as well as the signals in between the two. Like two brain cells on a larger scale. Two bodies as part of the same individual. It’s interesting . . .

DaLovin’ Dj

Interesting article, DaDJ. I wonder if he’ll next investigate the possibility of growing new neural limbs with which to control his added senses.

Logically, If amputees can control their replacement limbs through phantom movement of their fourth limb, implants in healthy people could be controlled by a new nerve that learns its purpose.

It’s intriguing, and supported by the little research I’ve seen, that bio-controls might be directed by thought alone; no need for hand-clenching interruptions when you’re carrying your coffee and donuts.


PS: Is this guy a pain freak or what? :slight_smile:

Never! I will never share my experiences with others! I will not submit to the cyborg tyranny! Spead the Word, my Brethren! Down with the Robot Menace! Tell them everyth-

Post deleted. Please support your local borging center

Remember citizen, your life is in our circuity

Expose all traitors to the System by opening your thoughts to the collective

Share thoughts, emotions, and feelings? You mean like talking to each other?

I can talk to the honey-of-the-week and tell her that I feel and think certain thoughts. This doesn’t mean that if someone came up and hit her on the head that I would feel it. That’s the difference. Simultaneous shared thoughts and perception is an entirely differnet animal. Comparing it to an intimate conversation is a little off. For one thing, I could lie about what I’m feeling. You couldn’t lie to a sensor that recorded every impulse that traveled through your nervous system.

This tech may make the Playstation 7 a reality. If he can make a robot arm move by moving his arm, then he just needs feedback sensors on the robot to send the data back to his nervous system. Should be able to control a software body just as easily. Fully immersible VR may become a reality with this tech.

DaLovin’ Dj

Oh, my. Spam and viruses are bad enough when we are dealing with desktop machines. Imagine Stephenson’s scenario of having ads permanently flashed across your line of sight.

Hell, imagine someone coding an electromuscular disruption virus. This is some scary stuff. I say full speed ahead, in spite of this.

Well, I think your underlying assumption here is that if you did that you would necessarily be sharing that feeling rather than sharing a stimulus.

In some respects the stimulus and the response may be treated equally, but in others they may not. Imagine the horrific consequences of giving a genuine masochist the ability to share stimulii. He could “feel” all the pain he wants without ever hurting himself.

Be clear about this: Warwick’s not really talking about sharing experiences, he’s talking about sharing the causes of experiences–namely, sharing the biochemical effects of certain stimuli. He could wire himself up to feel his wife’s orgasms, but that wouldn’t mean he’s experiencing her orgasm as she does subjectively.

If sensations can be transmitted through a computer, they can be stored and played back infinitely. I think the more interesting possibility is the commercialization of sensations.

Hmmm. Downloadable orgasms… where’s my credit card?

That would be great, hansel, no doubt. It would make for a great add-on to my XBox… :smiley:

  1. If a non-English speaker…even better, a non-Indo-European speaker…was linked to an average American, what would happen?

  2. If your average poorly educated Jerry Springer contestant was linked to a world-class mind–say Warwick himself, a philosopher, or novelist–how would s/he perceive the brilliant ideas being funneled into her head? Would this technology, therefore, eradicate all differences in intelligence?

  3. Which brings us to the problem of the transmission/translation medium. Is the subject rendered meaningless, i.e., is the thought the same as the thinker’s experience of it? Yes, I believe so. But no, this does not mean that the “thinker” or physical thought or neural network can be instantly reconstructed in its entirety in another brain. Simplification and standardization must occur, otherwise we neglect the differences between brains. (In personal terms–we can’t actually share subjective experiences, we can only recreate similar ones through communication). As with computers, data transmissions must be formatted in a specific, standardized mode in order to succeed. Therefore, all communication involves language and translation, including the proposed above (albeit much more efficiently than spoken language)! Direct communication is only theoretically possible in nonlocality, in which things occupying two spacetime coordinates “communicate” instantaneously.


There was a movie made about this very subject:

Brainstorm (1983)

Somebody does indeed “tape” the sensations experienced by a man while he’s having sex. In one scene, somebody steals a copy of this tape, and makes a tape loop of the moment of orgasm.

Hmm, one of mankind’s most cherished dreams come true? The multi-orgasmic male?

There is also a very interesting pornographic/experimental film by a Taiwanese director (I think she is Taiwanese but the film is in Japanese and English), in which orgasms can be captured and bought from vending machines. The movie was designed to be kind of a feminist continuation of Bladerunner, and it made for a very very very intersting class screening.

Also check out Strange Days.

Jack Lemmon played the lucky stiff. Heh heh.

As long as we’re on the subject, F. Paul Wilson wrote about it in * The LaNague Chronicles * and * Dydeetown world *.

While sex is the most obvious application (imagine having your own sensations recorded and fed back to you in realtime, as a multiplier; imagine you and your lover are wired into each other, both of you feeling what both are feeling), I was thinking of some more interesting applicaitons:[list=]
[li] People with chronic depression could be treated with a looping playback of someone’s joy or confidence.[/li][li] You could buy a sensorial recording of someone laughing, finding out that their child is gay, getting a massage. [/li][li] In the theatre, you could be plugged into a “sensory track” to heighten the effect.[/li][li] Alternately, you could plug into the sensory track for one character, following their perspective more closely (and then see the movie from another character’s sensory experience).[/li][li] Patients in recovery from surgery or other serious conditions could be put on a course of “wellbeing sensations”.[/li][li] Schizophrenics could be treated with a steady drip of lucidity.[/li][li] Surgeons, musicians, artists, athletes, could all “record” their performances, to be played back for students, who could walk themselves through the procedure or actions, until their muscle memories know it better than their brains.[/li][/list=
]The more I think about it, the more viable this technology seems because it’s so obviously commercially exploitable.

Bear in mind that Warwick is an infamous media tart who’s always making sweeping pronouncements on this subject (and is regularly ridiculed for them).

IT news sites like The Register and Need To Know have labelled him ‘Captain Cyborg’ (describing a ‘Warwickism’ as “an outrageous pseudo-technical statement made to support an illusion of technical competence”), and some of his claims have led to accusations of ‘gimmickry’ by New Scientist and others:

I realise that character assassination is not a valid response to his ideas, but you have to wonder about a man who will do anything for press–a study proving that bacon is a brain food, for example.