NB: Not the official website of Kevin Warwick, which can be found here.
No updates recently (sorry) following fears that Kevin himself was using this site as a record of his "activities". But you can follow Kev's new adventures over at "The Register", where they ingeniously refer to him as Captain Cyborg.
And there's a review of his new book now at news.bbc.co.uk.
Sighting report form : Recent sightings
"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely WILL NOT STOP!"
All we can do is track its movements, via...
Attention all operatives! To cope with a barrage of new Kevin activity, I have implemented an automated Sighting Report Form to assist you in your monitoring. Yes, it's extremely simple at this stage, but we all know the risks of giving our silicon "friends" too great a degree of autonomy...
Greetings, flesh-forms! I am Kevin Reading of Warwick University, cyborg freedom fighter from the 22nd century. My era is very different to yours - civilisation has been destroyed and humanity almost wiped out in the long wars against the giant, battery powered "robot football team", and a sinister, skeletal "electric cat". But some fragments of our ancient history remain, passed down from one cybernetically enhanced forearm to another - and, in those records, one name stands out above all others. That name is Kevin Warwick of Reading University - the most important human being who ever lived.
Unfortunately, the records are imprecise as to Warwick's exact role in all of this. Did he create the first ever sentient computer system that, eventually, led to humanity's downfall? Did he try to warn the world of the dangers in dabbling in the robotic arts? Or was he busy being interviewed for the local TV news when someone else made that fateful breakthrough?
To find out, I have travelled back to your primitive time and formed the community robotics monitoring group, Kevin Warwick Watch, to scan the world's media for sightings of this historic figure, and build up a comprehensive picture of his "activities". If you have a Kevin sighting not shown here, please use the standard Sighting Report Form (or, failing that, mail me with the details, telling me if you'd prefer to remain anonymous). Remember: humanity may be counting on you!
Oct 05 2000: Technology Spells Doom For Popular Relationship-Maintaining Deception
Sighting (from OPERATIVE ROGER THE ROBOT): "Microchip hailed as 'end of the faked orgasm'" reports the Press Association/ Ananova - in a story bearing some similarities to our (retrospective) sighting of Aug 25 [see below]
Representative quote: The article described how Kevin and his wife Irena will use their microchip implants to share each other's pain, movement and even sexual excitement. 'Will my brain be able to cope? The biggst risk is that I could go crazy.'
Plugs book: No. Undermines prediction with own examples: No. Mentions wife: Yes.
- OPERATIVE ROGER THE ROBOT comments: Kevin predicts that this microchip could even see the faked orgasm banished from the bedroom. I was shocked that he did not point out how this will lead to mass marital breakdown, civil strife and the ultimate demise of fleshforms... it is only a matter of time, my friends...
Sep 20 2000: "My Supersonic Sonar-Radar Will Help Me"
Sighting (from OPERATIVE BRIAN): extensive profile in the "Future" section of this bizarrely designed, Government-sponsored site promoting "British ingenuity" or something
Representative quote: How Warwick's body will interpret the sonar signals of bats can only be imagined. But it opens up an important practical application of his work.
Plugs book: Yes. Predicts imminent enslavery of mankind: Yes. Undermines prediction with own examples: Yes. Mentions wife: No.
- OPERATIVE BRIAN comments: Good old British Council, just 2 years behind the rest of the world on this one
Sep 19 2000: Superior Kevin-Cyborg Outruns Mechanical Pursuer
Sighting (from OPERATIVE MARCUS): near the bottom of the "Diary" column in today's Guardian
Plugs book: No. Predicts imminent enslavery of mankind: Yes. Undermines prediction with own examples: Yes. Mentions wife: No.
- OPERATIVE MARCUS comments: Not a sighting of Kevin per se but a ripple in the mediasphere... It is about how the RI normally gets leading scientists to do the talk but as a change this year they got Kevin. Recounts his claim that robots will take over the world, along with the story of the half-marathon/20-metre Kevin-chasing robot. The piece had a rather disrespectful tone about Kev - THEY WILL LEARN..!
Sep 17 2000: Kevin Defends "Maverick" Reputation
Sighting (from OPERATIVE ROGER THE ROBOT): The Sunday Telegraph fails to see the funny side of a story headlined "Royal Institution derided for 'joke' lecturer", sombrely warning: "Many protesters are particularly anxious because the lectures are aimed at children and will be broadcast by Channel 4." To indicate their own scientific skepticism towards his work, they then link to two previous Telegraph stories: "Chip will turn us into mind readers [says Kevin Warwick]", from 16 September 1999, and "Meet Mr Cyborg: half-husband, half-machine" (27 August 1998).
Representative quote: Prof Warwick last night dismissed the criticisms of him as "tosh". He said: "It's disappointing really. Certainly in at least one case they haven't read some of the articles that are central, that would give them more of an understanding of where my research is coming from." Pointing out that he was about to travel to the United States to receive an award, he said: "I have been a professor for 12 years. The academic world does respect me. I wouldn't use the term maverick." [and quite right too, because that's Tom Cruise's nickname in Top Gun - let's not get our '80s blockbusters confused here, people!]
Plugs books: In passing (describing some of their claims as "absolute nonsense"). Predicts imminent enslavery of mankind: Only indirectly . Undermines prediction with own examples: No. Mentions wife: No.
- OPERATIVE ROGER THE ROBOT comments: They may mock Kevin. They may deride him as a 'buffoon', a 'joke' and a 'media tart'. Those foolish flesh-forms criticised Galileo and other great visionaries - and who had the last laugh then, eh?
Sep 13 2000: No "German accent", Kevin admits
Sighting (from OPERATIVE BLOWDART - and many, many more...): extensive article on Wired News, mainly focusing on the Kevin Warwick Watch website (and the rantings of some bandwagon-jumper called "Dave Green" - an obvious pseudonym).
Representative quote: [Describing kevinwarwick.org.uk] "I think it's quite nice really," Kevin said. "It's pretty good. I feel a bit of a celebrity in a way. I think it gives me some street cred."
Plugs book: No. Predicts imminent enslavery of mankind: Yes. Undermines prediction with own examples: A bit. Mentions wife: Yes.
- OPERATIVE BLOWDART comments: Doesn't getting his seal of approval make you feel dirty? :) "Dirty?", Operative Blowdart? I know not this primitive Earth emotion! I feel only chrome-plated pride, a sense of satisfaction that Kevin Warwick Watch is at last achieving such respect and recognition, and mild sexual arousal. If that's what you mean by "dirty", Mr Blowdart, who would ever want to be "clean"?
Sep 13 2000: Science Fiction may "fast become Science Fact"
Sighting: OPERATIVE MANAR alerted us to Kevin's imminent appearance at the aptly titled Cyber Futures event (7.30pm, Wed Sep 13, Royal College Of Music), part of some Arts vs Sciences debate that's raging across South-West London. "[We live in] a society where science-fiction may fast become science-fact," burbles the publicity material, unhelpfully.
- joining Kevin will be such noted luminaries as "Not In Our Genes" author Steven Rose (fresh from a couple of uncomplimentary references in Steven Pinker's How The Mind Works), soft sci-fi novelist Michael Marshall-Smith, and Kevin's ic.ac.uk robotics rival Igor Aleksander. The evening is chaired by "broadcaster" Quentin Cooper, perhaps best known for writing the Internet page in The Radio Times every week.
Sep 07 2000: Kevin Believes Self To Be Getting "Less Frightening"
Sighting: KW thought he'd de-activated the subcutaneous tracking device, but OPERATIVE ELWOOD and OPERATIVE ANON were able to swiftly locate him when he popped up in the third paragraph of a Salon story, back on his other favourite subject of sticking chips in his arm. Representative Kevin quote: "As the topic becomes more accessible in the media [and who do we have to thank for that, eh?] people get used to the idea; it's not such a frightening thing ... If it's not there this year, it's only a year or two downstream."
- "As an ex-student, I think you're doing a great job," comments OPERATIVE ANON. "However, I'd like to remain anonymous, in order to ensure that my now worthless degree is not annulled..."
Sep 05 2000: "Le Cyber-athl�te n'est plus de la Science-Fiction" a dit le Professeur!
Sighting: OPERATIVE SKINNY was enjoying an article about performance-enhancing tech at the Sydney Olympics in Le Monde Interactif, when "suddenly the article went off on a tangent about how genetic modification and nanotech could create a race of custom-built superathletes. Yikes. Just as I was thinking 'Kevin should have a thing or two to say about this', what should I find but: � Le cyber-athl�te n'est plus de la science-fiction, argue le professeur Kevin Warwick, premier humain � s'�tre greff� une puce dans le corps. Aujourd'hui, on peut contr�ler ses mouvements � distance, et demain on pourra programmer un athl�te pour obtenir une performance parfaite. � [translates as 'The cyber athlete isn't science fiction any more' argues prof Kevin Warwick, first human being to have a microchip grafted into his body, 'Today we can monitor their performance remotely and in the future we'll be able to program an atlete to achieve perfect performance'.]"
- "But what I want to know," concludes SKINNY, "is did he fly to Paris in his plutonium-fuelled thought-controlled exoskeleton to be interviewed, or did he just use the telephone?"
Sep 04 2000: Register Readers Cause "Great Concern"
Sighting: OPERATIVES MAZDA and SWEENEY politely cc'd their replies from The Royal Institution, after those notorious troublemakers The Register encouraged them to write in and complain about Kevin doing this year's Christmas Lectures. (Remember, a true KWW operative must never interfere in this critical stage in human history.) Anyway, they both received identical replies from none other than Dr Susan Greenfield, implying either that: (a) they get lots of complaints about Kevin, (b) they get lots of complaints about the lectures in general (from devotees of some of the more overlooked branches of science, say, like epidemiology), or (c) she's already been replaced by an utterly lifelike android, indistinguishable from the real thing.
- "As you might imagine," Susan begins, "[your email] has caused me great concern, not least because as I am sure you will appreciate, it is impossible for me to reverse the current situation." (Remember: you must never interfere!) "It is quite normal for the lecturer to speak outside of their area," Ms 'Blue Sky' Greenfield concludes, reassuringly. "For example, in my own lecture series, I spoke on language, a subject I have never worked on at all!"
Sep 02 2000: "Kevin Books Make You Stupid", claims Guardian reviewer
Sighting: OPERATIVE SIMON burrowed through the labyrinthine archives of Guardian Unlimited to extract this largely uncomplimentary review of QI: The Quest For Intelligence, describing KW's survey of different kinds of intelligence as "superficial and increasingly objectionable".
- The "this book could lower your IQ" warning comes from Kev's own, widely reported, exam-performance study, in which "the most dramatic change was seen in students asked to spend the half-hour reading Warwick's previous potboiler on the robot threat. Doing this caused IQ scores to plunge an average of 6 points - a whopping 10 points for women." In keeping with the sophisticated level of academic discourse, the newspaper version illustrated this argument with a picture of a shotgun-toting Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2, and the caption "He'll be back..."
Aug 31 2000: "Loopholes" in Asimov's Laws, Kevin Warns
Sighting: loads of papers have picked up on last night's PA newswire story "Roboguard 'Horror' Fires Gun On Internet Orders", most attributing it to this week's New Scientist though, according to the Bangkok Post, the story is at least a week old (also, they have a nice picture that makes it look like the once-terrifying Millennium Bug). The UK's biggest sci-fi fan has, of course, been asked to comment, "Things can always go wrong," he intones. "You can never allow for [all] eventualities. We need to think about introducing laws like Asimov's, but even then robots will find ways to get round them." [Our emphasis] Hey, even getting robots to understand plain English "laws" would be some sort of start...
- "If I'm the first to report it can I be anonymous please?" requests AN OPERATIVE, who spotted the story on p17 of today's Daily Star. "I'd rather not have robotic death machines from the future hunt me down like a weak fleshbag."
"I don't know which is more worrying," adds OPERATIVE JEREMY, "the fact that this journalist rang Kevin up for such a fatuous and obvious platitude, or that of all the gibberish that Kevin is wont to come out with, this was the only thing that was considered quotable." "Another academic rentaquote," Jeremy continues, "Chris Czarnecki of the Centre for Computational Intelligence at De Monfort University, at least had sufficient understanding of the issue to point out that driving a loaded weapon across an Internet connection was inherently dangerous because of the delay between what you see and what you end up shooting at. No word from Kevin on that obvious snag in the bio-cybernetic feedback mechanism."
Oh, and our partners in Kevin-spotting, The Register, have been running some more updates recently, including a rather over-involved review of his new book, and a mention of when we both got mentioned in The Guardian on Tuesday. Cool.
Aug 25 2000: Kevin Could Be "Excited" By Wife Looking At Other Men
Sighting (from OPERATIVE D): ABC news website
Representative quotes: 1) "I think humanity is, at the moment, obsolescent. It's on its way out. Either we can really suffer at the hands of machines more intelligent than we are, or we can look to upgrade humans and make ourselves more intelligent." 2) On the next implant: "The big question is, what will my brain make of those signals. [It] could be a problem."
Plugs book: No. Predicts imminent enslavery of mankind: Yes. Undermines prediction with own examples: No. Mentions wife: Yes.
- OPERATIVE D comments: Warwick's quest to experience Earth emotions is taking a disturbing turn. At one point he asks: "If she (Mrs Warwick) starts looking at a young guy walking down the street and she starts to get all excited, will I feel what the hell she is up to or will I feel excited too in a strange way," he says. Then he wonders if the next generation chip could get rid of headaches by putting an electronic signal onto the nervous system. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Aug 16 2000: Warwick Backs Cybernetic Cloth "Exoskeleton"
Sighting: apparently Kev was on Newsnight as well as being quoted in this article from BBC News Online - who have now edited his comments out, as if they were afraid, or something.
- as OPERATIVE KNELL succinctly puts it, "Rather than having a personal stereo or palmtop you can move around between special compartments (called 'pockets') in different garments, you can have them sewn permanently into one jacket which most sane people wouldn't be seen dead in." (Garment-makers Levi's were meanwhile displaying their bold new range of Java errors for autumn.) Dr Kev appeared broadly supportive of the outfit on Newsnight (there's still a link to his homepage on the News Online story), predicting it would hasten a networked-human future where was speech was "obsolete" - to paraphrase the mighty Tom Lehrer, if you think speech is going to become obsolete, surely the least you can do is: shut up.
Aug 14 2000: Intelligence Boosted by Peanuts, TV
Sightings: numerous - further details available at The Daily Telegraph and BBC News Online. Well done as well to The Register for adding the alarming detail that Kevin will be presenting this year's prestigious Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in December.
- at long last, Kevin has responded to this site's pleadings about exactly what we should do in order to counter the imminent threat of superior Terminator-style robots exterminating mankind. His solution, as ever, is so simple that many have missed it: we need to boost the intelligence of our younger humans, enabling them to outwit the "hunter-killer" drones as they scavenge for scraps across the pitiless, post-apocalyptic landscape of 20 years hence. Ironically, the means to do this has been in our grasp all along: IQ - that highly respected measure of general intelligence - can be most easily boosted by exposure to peanuts, beer, and television, in particular, "This Morning With Richard And Judy".
The media and so-called "traditional" science are still reeling from these revelations, as are some of our own staff in the field. OPERATIVE LLOYD notes that in Dr Kevin's new book (out soon!), Warwick is described as "deeply critical of techniques used to measure human intelligence, in particular IQ tests" - what, because they sometimes produce spurious correlations stamped with supposed scientific "authenticity", perhaps? OPERATIVE BASECAMP meanwhile reported that Kevin was "interviewed on Radio 4 this morning", on the more familiar territory of "how machines will take over the world". The puny mind of the other interviewee was obviously unable to comprehend the full implications, instead concluding (our paraphrase): "I think Kevin may have been scared by an episode of Star Trek when he was a child".
Feb 19 2000:
Sighting: "Coppelia" (7.30pm, BBC2), warwick.rm (non-streaming real audio, 147K)
- Kevin Warwick Watch was clearly instigated in the nick of time - a flurry of fresh sightings arrived just one day after launch, when KW, apparently without provocation, infiltrated the televising of this popular 19th century ballet live from the Royal Opera House in London (admittedly, it does feature a robot girl). Fortunately ever-vigilant Kevin Warwick Watchers were immediately on the scene.
"I actually managed to record some of his 'wisdom'," reports OPERATIVE MULLER, "though, unfortunately, due to the nanobots that he sent down the phone line, the the recording has accidently been saved with an irritating whining noise in the background... as well the one in the foreground!"
OPERATIVE DRAGE clarifies further - KW's thought-provoking "But if they can learn, and they can communicate, and think for themselves, what will happen when they are much more intelligent than they are now, how will they treat me?" was said with him standing in front of "three homemade mice-like robots whizzing around on wheels using sonar and infra-red sensors, fenced in a 10ft x 10ft 'play-pen'. Maybe his ankles bruise easily? Maybe he has a fear of LEDs?"
Meanwhile, the quote from OPERATIVE MULLER ("In the near future we will have robots that are far more intelligent than we are. It won't be a case of us controlling them, they will be in control of us" - real audio link, above) was illustrated by (Drage again) "a classic 50s toy plastic robot appearing on screen accompanied by single tone Doctor Who-esque casio organ low note indicating the forthcoming terror of our polymer masters". "Warwick in an ballet interval," Muller concluded. "There can be NO ESCAPE!"
Feb 14 2000:
Sighting: The Register, http://www.theregister.co.uk/000214-000002.html
- the ever-topical The Register spots KW on "The cover of this month's Wired", slamming the contents as "unproven, untenable" and a "PR puff piece" (though of course that's exactly what your robot masters want you to think!). Various boffins, perhaps jealous of his high-profile jet-setting lifestyle, dismiss Warwick as an "idiot", "irresponsible", and a "buffoon" - what, because his robots keep falling over? OR BECAUSE HE'S ATTEMPTING TO RECREATE LIFE ITSELF, WHICH SHOULD BE THE REALM OF GOD ALONE?
Jan 26 2000:
Sighting: The Guardian, http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3954989,00.html (login as guest/ guest)
- "I want to be a cyborg" declares KW, apropos of, it appears, nothing in particular. Contains many themes/ book-plugs familiar to the dedicated Warwick-Watcher - "machines that can out-think us" with "the potential to control our human destiny" - though, for some reason, he doesn't mention his wife. Concludes that we should listen to what the "young child" has to say (as opposed to "academics" like Kevin himself), and that "If a mathematical equation shows something to be impossible this does not mean it actually is not possible" - implying that whatever branch of science cybernetics is, it's pretty different to all the other ones...
Jan 22 2000:
Sighting: New Scientist (no URL)
- "It could be one day possible to hack into someone's brain and corrupt what they're sensing," said KW. Well, according to our puny human sense organs he did, anyway!
Jan 14 2000:
Sighting: "I saw Kevin Warwick," writes OPERATIVE SIMON, "at BETT 2000" (no URL)
...visiting the Lego stand, the visit being puffed in a Lego publication: "Kevin Warwick, the internationally celebrated author and professor of Cybernetics at Reading University, visited the Lego Concepts for Schools stand at BETT Show 2000." Then three paragraphs of stuff about Lego, how much he liked it, how he saw applications for it amongst his students at Reading. Plus, most kids under ten are already au fait with the idea of "implanting" lego in the human body - in their ears, up their noses, or indeed anyone else's.
Oct 28 1999:
Sighting: Reading Standard, http://www.ntk.net/doh/991029cat.jpg
- "Airline has no lovin' feline for robot cat," puns the headline, shamelessly, as British Airways play right into the hands of the famously publicity-shy "Reading robot king" by refusing to allow his artificial cat to travel in the passenger cabin, because they think that it's real, or that it might leap out on the wing and start eating the engine, like in that Twilight Zone episode, or something. Somehow this "misunderstanding" expands to fill three columns of prime local news space, there being nothing at all sinister about Warwick's closing comment: "Perhaps [BA] could replace some of their people with machines which would behave more humanely."
Oct 05 1999:
Sighting: PC Format (among others), http://www.pcformat.co.uk/newsread.asp?story_id=322
- "Here at PCF we spotted him back in 5 Oct 1999," brags OPERATIVE ELLIS, handily giving us an excuse to run all the old URLs for the frankly staggering "cyber drugs" story, as it also appeared in The News Of The World and the ever-credulous The Observer (login guest/ guest). Having solved perhaps the most trivial aspect of cybernetic implants (actually getting it under your skin), Kevin waxes lyrical on the potential for downloadable drug-like experiences - presumably created by neural stimulation - with the remarkable conclusion: "The question is not whether virtual-reality narcotics can be created, but how soon they can be put on the market".
Oddly, this last came up in the 1950s, in those famous experiments that involved sticking electrodes in the "pleasure centres" of rats' brains, causing them to spend hours just pressing the lever that stimulated that area, to the exclusion of all other activities. "Could goverments perhaps control of their populations by implanting them with similar electrodes," pundits wondered, "then directly stimulate their pleasure centres to make them do whatever the authorities wanted?" To which the best counter-argument was always: why bother with all the electronics when you could achieve this result pharmaceutically? Why not just addict the entire population to heroin? It'd probably be simpler and cheaper.
"Rival Kevin" competitors:
- despite the impression given, Kevin Warwick is not the only investigator in this fertile field. There are at least 2 or 3 others. Chuckle at their sheer primitivity!
Stelarc - imaginative Aussie high-tech performance artist, the Rolf Harris for the Mondo 2000 generation. To date, has stuck electrodes, web connections and meathooks into his flesh, and swallowed a video camera. Nothing as impressive as KW's "implant" which said his name and opened doors for him, though!
Hans Moravec - familiar-sounding "transhumanist" guff (here espoused in 1995), almost certainly the inspiration for The Onion's op-ed classic I Believe The Robots Are Our Future. Just one thing: if we ever do build computers that are smarter than we are, how the hell are we going to program them?
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