11:29 AM ET 08/25/98 RCybernetics professor claims to receive first chip transplant By Neil Winton, Science and Technology Correspondent
READING, England, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Professor Kevin Warwick claimed on Tuesday to be the first person in the world to have a computer chip surgically implanted into his body.
Professor Warwick told a press conference that a glass capsule about 23 millimetes long and 3 millimetres wide containing an electromagnetic coil and a silicon chip was inserted into his arm on Monday.
“It is a research experiment. I don’t know how long we will leave the implant in but it’s looking at what’s possible now in terms of communicating between a computer and myself,” Warwick told a press conference.
Warwick is head of the Cybernetics Department at the University of Reading. He demonstrated the chip in action by walking through the front door of his department.
“Good morning Professor Warwick. You have five new E mails,” said a computerised voice activated by the inserted chip.
The human as computer had many applications, but also dangers, Warwick said.
“Possibilities could be that anyone who wanted access to a gun could do so only if they had one of these implants. Then if they actually try and enter a school or building that doesn’t want them in there, the school computer would sound alarms and warn people inside or even prevent them having access,” Warwick said in an interview.
“The same could be true at work where employees could be tracked in and out of the building to see when they are there.”
“This is a technolgoy where there are big positives but there are also big negatives. Do we want to hand over control to machinery or to have buildings telling us what we can do or can’t do.”
“I’m really looking at what’s technically possible. I’m excited about the future prospects, particularly the human body communicating and interacting with a computer. There are a lot of exciting possibilities.”
Warwick said the chip was implanted by his own doctor, who advised him to have it removed within 10 days.
There was a danger of infection, although Warwick was taking antibiotics.
Reading University said in a statement that this was the first chip to be surgically inserted into a human.
“It is therefore not known what effects it will have, how well it will operate and how robust it will be. Professor Warwick is therefore taking an enormous risk – for the transponder to leak or shatter within his body could be catastrophic,” the statement said.
Warwick shrugged off the dangers.
“It doesn’t hurt any. I took some Nurofen just before the operation. It feels uncomfortable; it feels as though there’s something in my arm, but it doesn’t feEl unpleasant.”
“Cybernetics is all about humans and technology interacting. For a Professor of Cybernetics to be come a true Cyborg – part man part machine – is therefore rather appropriate,” Warwick said.
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