Ethics of CyberneticsCybernetics: What it is, and how it will impact our lives.
Cybernetics:Defined as: The study of the interaction between man, machine, and animals11: Norbert Wiener
How is it being used?Latest biomedical research is using Cybernetics to create superhumans which will transform the way we practice medicine, transmit thoughts, and communicate with one another
Kevin WarwickWho is this guy?A cybernetic pioneer at the Reading University in the UK.
Kevin Warwick:Whats so important about him?Research entails creating software to read the signals from a nervous system and to record and condition that data for retransmission
SuperhumansIf Kevins research is successful, we will begin to approach the reality of superhumans What are superhumans?Superhumans = men and women who have machines implanted internally to help them surpass the physical boundaries of normal human function including thought process, emotional and physical capabilities.
Kevins research:What it consists of:Currently: reconstruct and study traditional electrical impulsesEventually: understand how to manipulate sense impulsesIn the future: create new senses through impulse manipulation
Kevins Research:What hes doing in the UK:His next experiment involves him placing a small glass case containing a power supply, a mini-printed circuit board to receive and transmit signals in his left arms nerve fibersThese chips will receive signals from the collar and send them to a computer instantaneously
Experiment Example:When Kevin moves a finger:Electronic signals travel from his brain to activate the muscles and tendons that operate his hand. The collar picks up the signal en routeNerve impulses will still reach the finger but he will tap into them as though he was listening on a phone line
Why is this significant?More routes for more senses could be foundAlternative pathways for blind or deaf people to see or hear with ultrasonic wavelengthsExample: A blind person could use this technology to navigate around objects with ultrasonic radar, much the way bats do
Ever worked before?NO.But then again, nobodys ever tapped into their nerve fibers before.
What has been done?Emory University:Implanted a transmitting device into the brain of a stroke patientLinked motor neurons to siliconAfterwards, patient was able to move a cursor on a computer screen just by thinking about it.
What has been done?Caltechs Steve Potter:Has a living layer of rat neurons growing over a microelectrode array. Neural activity is sent to an SGI workstation which renders the data. (Acts as the body)Trying to organize data to make sense of it. By end of year recognize speech.Brain can command artificial limbs
Its only a matter of timeThe reality of smart machines to aid humans in various functions is imminent.Implementation:Requisite programs must be set up. Like keyboards are today.Basic programming shouldnt be too hardImplant owner will have to learn how to operate his new little friend.
Ethical Issues?Many issues arise:Is it ethical to create a superhuman where machines are in charge of key human functions such as thought control and communication?Is it ethical to allow some humans, probably the wealthy ones, to communicate through cybernetics and not others?
Ethical Issues:How safe must the implants be for them to be distributed?Senses and impulses could be transmitted in a harmful way What kind of security should accompany the implantsAn entirely new private realm - ones emotions.
Ethical Issues:New sensesCan these senses be patented?What if theyre addictive - who regulates?
Is It All Bad?Warm fuzzy outcomes:ALS - Lou Gehrigs disease - could possibly be cured once we understand how to retransmit nerve impulses.We can create a new way, although artificial, to make people feel happy
The Future.If developed, most likely will be used.We can only wait and see...
Thank You.- Michael Lewis
BibliographyWired Magazine, February 2000 issuesCybernetic Intelligence Research Group - http://www.cyber.rdg.ac.uk/CIRG/research/research.htmWired online: http://www.wired.comBiomedical Research at Emoryhttp://www.bme.gatech.edu/news.html
BibliographyProgram in Ethics in Science and Medicine - http://www.swmed.edu/home_pages/ethics/Department of Cybernetics at Reading - http://www2.cyber.rdg.ac.uk/Cybernetics/