Kevin Warwick

Kevin Warwick is Emeritus Professor at Reading and Coventry Universities. His main research areas are artificial intelligence, biomedical systems, robotics and cyborgs. He is frequently referred to as the world’s first Cyborg. Kevin is a Chartered Engineer who has published over 600 research papers. His experiments into implant technology led to him being featured as the cover story on the US magazine, ‘Wired’. He achieved the world’s first direct electronic communication between two human nervous systems, the basis for thought communication. Another project extended human sensory input to include ultrasonics. He also linked his nervous system with the internet in order to control a robot hand directly from his neural signals. He has been awarded higher doctorates (DSc) by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences. Kevin has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by 9 Universities.

Professor Kevin Warwick is pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence and cyborg technologies How can artificial intelligence (AI ) improve healthcare? AI can be used to learn what is going on in different parts of the body and to predict problems. This gives us the power to prevent problems before they arise or to counteract malfunctions which are detected by sensors. Could you give us an example that will be part of the near future? One immediate application is in the use of deep brain stimulation or DBS. This technology is already used in people with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy or depression to stimulate the nervous system with electrical pulses in order to alleviate symptoms. AI allows us to take it a step further by predicting when stimulation is needed. This means we could apply DBS before the patient experiences symptoms. What areas of future research are most exciting? An interesting area is the use of cultured neural networks. Typically, we use neurons (brain cells) taken from rat embryos and connect them to a robot. Sensors from the robot stimulate the culture and we have observed different pathways in the cell culture changing the direction of the robot. How do you do this? Firstly, we separate the brain cells using enzymes and them lay them out on a multi-electrode array (essentially a small dish). Very quickly the neurons start connecting with each other. We have to feed the brain cells using minerals and nutrients. The growing brain, consisting of approx. 150,000 cells has to be kept in an incubator at a controlled temperature of 37 degrees C. After about 10 days the brain has lots of connections so we give it a body. The brain is connected to its body, bi-directionally, via a Bluetooth link. Sensory signals from the robot body...