Kevin Warwick


Kevin Warwick : biography

9 February 1954 –

In 2005 Warwick was congratulated for his work in attracting students to the field by Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom in an Early day motion for making the subject interesting and relevant so that more students will want to develop a career in science.. (4 November 2010). Retrieved on 2011-04-23.


Warwick’s claims that robots that can program themselves to avoid each other while operating in a group raise the issue of self-organisation, and as such might be the major impetus in following developments in this area. In particular, the works of Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, once in the province of pure speculation now have become immediately relevant with respect to synthetic intelligence.

Cyborg-type systems not only are homeostatic (meaning that they are able to preserve stable internal conditions in various environments) but adaptive, if they are to survive. Testing the claims of Varela and Maturana via synthetic devices is the larger and more serious concern in the discussion about Warwick and those involved in similar research. "Pulling the plug" on independent devices cannot be as simple as it appears, for if the device displays sufficient intelligence and assumes a diagnostic and prognostic stature, we may ultimately one day be forced to decide between what it could be telling us as counterintuitive (but correct) and our impulse to disconnect because of our limited and "intuitive" perceptions.

Warwick’s robots seemed to have exhibited behaviour not anticipated by the research, one such robot "committing suicide" because it could not cope with its environment.Warwick, K: “I, Cyborg”, University of Illinois Press, 2004, p 66 In a more complex setting, it may be asked whether a "natural selection" may be possible, neural networks being the major operative.

The 1999 edition of the Guinness Book of Records recorded that Warwick carried out the first robot learning experiment across the internet. One robot, with an Artificial Neural Network brain in Reading, UK, learnt how to move around. It then taught, via the internet, another robot in SUNY Buffalo New York State, USA, to behave in the same way. The robot in the USA was therefore not taught or programmed by a human, but rather by another robot based on what it itself had learnt.Warwick, K: “I, Cyborg”, University of Illinois Press, 2004

Hissing Sid was a robot cat which Warwick took on a British Council lecture tour of Russia, it being presented in lectures at such places as Moscow State University. Sid, which was put together as a student project, got its name from the noise made by the Pneumatic actuators used to drive its legs when walking. The robot also appeared on BBC TV’s Blue Peter but became better known when it was refused a ticket by British Airways on the grounds that they did not allow animals in the cabin.

Warwick was also responsible for a robotic "magic chair" (based on the SCARA-form UMI RTX arm) which Sir Jimmy Savile used on BBC TV’s Jim’ll Fix It. The chair provided Jim with tea and stored Jim’ll Fix it badges for him to hand out to guests. Warwick even appeared on the programme himself for a Fix it involving robots.

Project Cyborg

Probably the most famous piece of research undertaken by Warwick (and the origin of the nickname, "Captain Cyborg", given to him by The Register) is the set of experiments known as Project Cyborg, in which he had a chip implanted into his arm, with the aim of "becoming a cyborg".

The first stage of this research, which began on 24 May 1998, involved a simple RFID transmitter being implanted beneath Warwick’s skin, and used to control doors, lights, heaters, and other computer-controlled devices based on his proximity. The main purpose of this experiment was said to be to test the limits of what the body would accept, and how easy it would be to receive a meaningful signal from the chip.Wired Magazine 8.02 (February 2000), . Retrieved 25-12-2006.