“Humans as we know them won’t exist in the next 50-100 years,” says Professor Kevin Warwick, British engineer, recipient of two higher doctorates, nine honorary doctorates, and one of the world’s first cyborgs.
“I definitely see a future in which we’re all adapted with cyborg abilities in some way.” Human potential is evolving, and discussion around the idea of cyborgs is being met with increasing fervour by the wider public. The term cyborg has many nuanced meanings, but most often refers to those whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations, largely due to the integration of human and machine – where technology becomes one with the human body.
Professor Warwick has been experimenting on himself since 1998, dedicating his own body (and risking his life) in order to push the limits of technology and human potential. His work has evolved from the implantation of microchips within his body, a practice that’s becoming increasingly used much like a contactless card, allowing people to access buildings or pay for their lunch with just the touch of a hand, to work focusing on integrating the brain with technology. His BrainGate implant allowed him to control a robotic hand on the other side of the Atlantic, and feel it too. “Someone who has had their hand or leg amputated, could have an artificial limb which they then control as if it’s part of their body, and they wouldn’t notice any difference as far as the brain is concerned,” he says. “But the key thing is, it doesn’t have to be a leg or an arm, it could be a building, it could be a car – your body doesn’t need to have legs and arms like it does now. As soon as you have the interface between your nervous system and wires, any technology can be your body, and it can be wherever you want it to be.”
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