You may think the chilling future prophesied in the Terminator films and offshoots is purely fantasy – after all, Skynet didn’t manage to come online and destroy us all in 1997 – but not so fast. Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at Reading University, sees a future where cyborgs are the norm and non upgraded humans are kept in places like zoos. Even better? He’s working to make it a reality. Maybe Judgment Day wiping out most of humanity was the better outcome after all…
Warwick has spent the past few decades studying how technology can be combined with biology to make both humans and machines better. The Professor had a radio transmitter implanted in his left arm years ago – eliminating the need to use his lab key card or flip light switches (seriously, the guy’s like his own personal version of The Clapper – only without the annoying clapping). While those things seem mostly like parlor tricks – and his technologically enhanced nervous system link with his wife is a little bit creepy – there’s no doubt that the scientist is achieving some impressive things in the lab.
Take, for instance, his work on running mini-robots with rat brains. Warwick takes brain cells from a rat embryo, grows them in a dish, and then implants them into a mini-robot where they learn how to not run into things and other tasks. It’s at once very cool, but also unsettling. It gets even weirder when he talks about one brain that was told everything it did was wrong – so it eventually stopped doing anything at all, essentially committing suicide. Warwick talks about using human brain cells in the not too distant future – which ought to make everyone nervous.
Check out this clip of Warwick showing off his research and talking about how it’s a certainty that technology will become self aware at one point. While you’re doing that, we’ll be out back digging our bomb shelter and stockpiling guns for Judgment Day.