Press Releases

Upgrading Humans – Technical Realities and New Morals – University of Reading

Release Date : 11 October 2006

A University of Reading professor who has a neural implant in his own brain will hold a series of lectures next week asking how the use of implant technology might change moral and ethical values in society. Professor Kevin Warwick from the School of Systems Engineering is set to discuss how the use of implant technology is rapidly diminishing the effects of certain neural illnesses, as part of the Bernard Price Memorial Lecture series in South Africa. He will give examples of a number of problem areas in which such technology has already had a profound effect, and will also give an overview of research which has led to him receiving a neural implant in his own brain. This linked his nervous system bi-directionally with the internet which enabled his neural signals to directly control various technological devices. His brain was able to receive feedback from neural signals from another human's nervous system, the fingertips of a robot hand and ultrasonic extra sensory input. Prof. Warwick said: "This type of technology has significant prospects for the future, both in the short term as a therapeutic device and in the long term as a form of enhancement, including the realistic potential for thought communication. "It has tremendous commercial potential but also raises ethical issues which need to be discussed. For instance, an individual whose brain is part human and part machine can have abilities that far surpass those who remain with a human brain alone. "What we need to ask now is, will such an individual exhibit different moral and ethical values to those of a human and what effects might this have on society?" The Bernard Price Memorial Lecture is the premier event of the SA Institute of Electrical Engineering. It was originally set up in 1931 to mark the centenary of the discovery of electromagnetism by Michael Faraday. Prof. Warwick will give his lecture five times over one week in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London and Cape Town. Previous respected international speakers include Sir James Redmond, Lord Willis Jackson and Sir Harold Bishop. Ends For more information contact Lucy Ferguson, Senior Press Officer, at: Or: Professor Warwick:


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