Video profile of "World's First Cyborg" Kevin Warwick

Motherboard TV (Vice) has a video interview up with Kevin Warwick, a Professor of Cybernetics at Reading University, who in 1998 became "the world's first cyborg." We've blogged about him before here on Boing Boing. Warwick had a radio frequency ID implanted in his arm.

As a result, he can turn on lights by snapping his fingers; once he let his wife's brain waves take control of his body (she's also cybernetic). This isn't just for fun: Warwick is certain that without upgrading, humans will someday fall behind the advances of the robots they're building - or worse. "Someday we'll switch on that machine, and we won't be able to switch it off."
[ via BB Submitterator ]


  1. “As a result, he can turn on lights by snapping his fingers; once he let his wife’s brain waves take control of his body (she’s also cybernetic).”

    Bullshit alert.

  2. “Someday we’ll switch on that machine, and we won’t be able to switch it off.” . That would be a design problem, not an user problem.

  3. I think we might have a half decent autonomous robot in the next 50 years. Something that is able to interact with an everyday person and accomplish something (doesn’t have to look human, just be able to comprehend things via speech and visual inputs).

    But I highly doubt we have fully humanoid robots like in Blade Runner or the like in the next 50 years…..oh how I wish.

    Robots are like the flying cars from the 50’s….where’s mine at?!

  4. Ah, mad old self-pulicising loon-cum-liar Captain Cyborg. Is he still spurting his nonsense over credulous mainstream journos?

  5. cy·borg

    a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device.

    I’d say that Kevin was beat to the title of “Worlds First Cyborg” decades ago.

    1. Accordinly to that definition, anyone with a pacemaker or even hearing aids would be a cyborg. It sure kill the thrill. :D

    2. Technically, depending on how you define “physiological functioning,” he could have been beaten by centuries–by anyone with a peg leg.

  6. I really wanted to plant RFID chips in my shoes and the shoes of my friends.

    Then, whenever they entered my apartment, I’d have a different sound cue, like from a sitcom. I was especially looking forward to applause, laugh tracks, and the “ooooooh” sound.

  7. No way on earth. It’s absolute nonsense. No man with a brain in his head would ever give his wife control of his body. ;)

  8. Claiming something is the ‘First’ is often problematic. Stelarc’s Ping Body pre-dates Warwick’s RFID insertion for one. Fun interview though.

  9. An RFID in one’s arm makes them a cyborg?

    Does duct taping an LP to my forehead and accepting quarters in my ass make me a jukebox?

  10. I’ve had to sing “Unchained Melody” sixteen times, but I now have enough change to buy a grande iced peppermint white chocolate mocha.

    Off to Starbucks!

  11. My guess would be the first proto-human who grabbed a stick and extended his reach to whap another proto-human across the noggin was the first cyborg.

    1. The first thing I thought when I read this was “Steve Mann is going to be pissed when he see this.”

  12. That’s nothing. I once met a woman with silicone implants who could turn on men just by shaking her chest.

  13. Yeah, I used to enjoy The Register’s piss-taking of “Captain Cyborg”, but I haven’t read the site regularly in several years. Still, a lot of his stunts seem to be the sort of thing that can be accomplished by an RFID chip and maybe a few electrodes. He’s a canny self-promoter who hasn’t contributed anything of note or value.

  14. Kevin: “And suddenly there will be a point we will switch on that intelligent machine and we won’t be able to switch it off.”

    B-roll: Antenna against sky
    B-roll: Car driving down a road, another car turns into a side street
    B-roll: A cat walks down the street away from the viewer

    I think that last one was trying to tell us something.

  15. “…once he let his wife’s brain waves take control of his body (she’s also cybernetic)”

    He & his wife had their “nervous systems linked” for an experiment.
    Details 8 mins 30 secs in to the video.
    Heh, he likens it to sex.

    Certainly an oddly eccentric chap :S
    But all the most interesting people are.

  16. >> he likens it to sex.

    Oh, wait.

    Then it has nothing to do with what I was talking about. Never mind.

  17. He made a right idiot of himself over the Soham kidnapping and murder case, where he tried to say that the two girls would have been safe if they had been implanted, and tried to advocate chipping all kids – feeding (off) the UK’s militant paedo-paranoia. The guy is not only a publicity-hungry loudmouth, but he’s raised false hopes and damaged the reputation of serious research in this area.

  18. Possibly the worlds most over-publicised cyborg, but not the first. Cochlear implants have been around since the 1970s; Implantable pace-makers since the 1960s; Hip replacements since the 1940s.

  19. He was one of my lecturers. Was the most unprepared lecturer we had. The opinion of most of my other lecturers was that he’s a bit of a media wh*re.
    Still, we saw the video of the chip being inserted in his arm which was a bit icky.

  20. Oh, please.

    He’s no more a “cyborg” for implanting an RFID chip than I am a sheep for wearing a woolen suit.

    People with artificial hearts are far more cyborgs than he’ll ever be.

  21. “Someday we’ll switch on that machine, and we won’t be able to switch it off.”

    We called that machine agriculture.

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