Kevin Warwick

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Kevin Warwick
Kevin Warwick.jpg
Kevin Warwick, February 2008
Born (1954-02-09) 9 February 1954 (age 60)
Coventry, UK
Citizenship British
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Cybernetics, robotics
Institutions University of Oxford
Newcastle University
University of Warwick
University of Reading
Alma mater Aston University
Imperial College London
Doctoral advisor John Hugh Westcott
Doctoral students Mark Gasson
Known for Project Cyborg
Influenced Aubrey de Grey

Kevin Warwick (born 9 February 1954) is a British engineer and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. He is known for his studies on direct interfaces between computer systems and the human nervous system, and has also done research in the field of robotics.


Kevin Warwick was born in 1954 in Coventry in the United Kingdom. He attended Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, Warwickshire. He left school in 1970 to join British Telecom, at the age of 16. In 1976 he took his first degree at Aston University, followed by a Ph.D and a research post at Imperial College London.

He subsequently held positions at Oxford, Newcastle and Warwick universities before being offered the Chair in Cybernetics at the University of Reading in 1987.

Warwick is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute. He is Visiting Professor at the Czech Technical University in Prague and the University of Strathclyde and in 2004 was Senior Beckman Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. He is also Director of the University of Reading Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Centre, which links the University with Companies and is on the Advisory Boards of the Instinctive Computing Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University[1] and the Centre for Intermedia, University of Exeter.[2]

By the age of 40 he had been awarded higher doctorates (D.Sc.) by both Imperial College and by the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague for his research output in completely separate areas. He was presented with the 'Future of Health Technology Award' in Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was made an Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, St.Petersburg. He has received the IET Achievement Medal, the IET Mountbatten Medal and in 2011 the Ellison-Cliffe Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine.[3]

Warwick is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at Coventry University.


Kevin Warwick speaking at the Tomorrow's People conference in 2006 hosted by Oxford University.

Warwick carries out research in artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering, control systems and robotics. Much of Warwick's early research was in the area of discrete time adaptive control. He introduced the first state space based self-tuning controller[4] and unified discrete time state space representations of ARMA models.[5] However he has also contributed in mathematics,[6] power engineering[7] and manufacturing production machinery.[8] Kevin presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled 'The Rise of Robots' in the year 2000.

Artificial intelligence[edit]

Warwick presently heads an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council supported research project which investigates the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques in order to suitably stimulate and translate patterns of electrical activity from living cultured neural networks in order to utilise the networks for the control of mobile robots.[9] Hence a biological brain actually provides the behaviour process for each robot. It is expected that the method will be extended to the control of a robot head.

Previously Warwick was behind a genetic algorithm called Gershwyn, which was able to exhibit creativity in producing pop songs, learning what makes a hit record by listening to examples of previous hit songs.[10] Gershwyn appeared on BBC's Tomorrow's World having been successfully used to mix music for Manus, a group consisting of the four younger brothers of Elvis Costello.

Another Warwick project involving artificial intelligence is the robot head, Morgui. The head contains 5 senses (vision, sound, infrared, ultrasound and radar) and is being used to investigate sensor data fusion. The head was X-rated by the University of Reading Research and Ethics Committee due to its image storage capabilities – anyone under the age of 18 who wishes to interact with the robot must apriori obtain parental approval.[11]

Warwick has very outspoken views on the future, particularly with respect to artificial intelligence and its impact on the human species, and argues that we will need to use technology to enhance ourselves in order to avoid being overtaken.[12] He also points out that there are many limits, such as our sensorimotor abilities, that we can overcome with machines, and is on record as saying that he wants to gain these abilities: "There is no way I want to stay a mere human."[13]


Warwick heads the University of Reading team in a number of European Community projects such as FIDIS looking at issues concerned with the future of identity, ETHICBOTS and RoboLaw which consider the ethical aspects of robots and cyborgs.[14] Warwick is also working with Daniela Cerqui, a social and cultural anthropologist from the University of Lausanne, to address the main social, ethical, philosophical and anthropological issues related to his research.[15]

Warwick’s areas of interest have many ethical implications, some due to his Human enhancement experiments. The ethical dilemmas in his research are highlighted as a case study for schoolchildren and science teachers by the Institute of Physics[16] as a part of their formal Advanced level and GCSE studies. His work has also been directly discussed by The President's Council on Bioethics and the President’s Panel on Forward Engagements.[17] He is presently a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Novel Neurotechnologies.[18]

His paper entitled Future issues with Robots and Cyborgs is ranked as the top paper, in terms of downloads per day, in the journal Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology.[19]

Deep brain stimulation[edit]

Along with Tipu Aziz and his team at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, and John Stein of the University of Oxford, Warwick is helping to design the next generation of Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease.[20] Instead of stimulating the brain all the time, the aim is for the device to predict when stimulation is needed and to apply the signals prior to any tremors occurring to stop them before they even start.[21]

Public awareness[edit]

Warwick has headed a number of projects aimed at exciting schoolchildren about the technology with which he is involved. In 2000 he received the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Millennium Award for his Schools Robot League. Meanwhile in 2007, 16 school teams were involved in designing a humanoid robot to dance and then complete an assault course—a final competition being held at the Science Museum (London). The project, entitled 'Androids Advance' was supported by EPSRC and was presented as an evening news item on Chinese television.[22]

Warwick contributes significantly to the public understanding of science by giving regular public lectures, taking part in radio programmes and through popular writing. He has appeared in numerous television documentary programmes on artificial intelligence, robotics and the role of science fiction in science, such as How William Shatner Changed the World, Future Fantastic and Explorations.[23] He also appeared in the Ray Kurzweil inspired film Transcendent Man along with Colin Powell, William Shatner and Stevie Wonder. He has also guested on a number of TV chat shows, including Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Først & sist, and Richard & Judy.[23] Warwick has appeared on the cover of a number of magazines, for example the February 2000 edition of Wired.[24]

In 2000 Warwick presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures entitled The Rise of the Robots. The lectures were well received by some and were even felt to be inspirational.[25] Meanwhile in a letter Simon Colton complained about the choice of Warwick, prior to his appearance. He claimed that Warwick is not a spokesman for our subject (Artificial Intelligence) and allowing him influence through the Christmas lectures is a danger to the public perception of science.[26] In light of Warwick's claims that computers could be creative, Colton, who is a Reader in Computational Creativity, also said the AI community has done real science to reclaim words such as creativity and emotion which they claim computers will never have.[27] Subsequent letters were generally positive, Ralph Rayner wrote With my youngest son, I attended all of the lectures and found them balanced and thought-provoking. They were not sensationalist. I applaud Warwick for his lectures.[28]

In 2005 Warwick was congratulated for his work in attracting students to the field by Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom in an Early day motion for making the subject interesting and relevant so that more students will want to develop a career in science.[29]


Warwick's claims that robots that can program themselves to avoid each other while operating in a group raise the issue of self-organisation, and as such might be the major impetus in following developments in this area. In particular, the works of Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, once in the province of pure speculation now have become immediately relevant with respect to synthetic intelligence.

Cyborg-type systems not only are homeostatic (meaning that they are able to preserve stable internal conditions in various environments) but adaptive, if they are to survive. Testing the claims of Varela and Maturana via synthetic devices is the larger and more serious concern in the discussion about Warwick and those involved in similar research. "Pulling the plug" on independent devices cannot be as simple as it appears, for if the device displays sufficient intelligence and assumes a diagnostic and prognostic stature, we may ultimately one day be forced to decide between what it could be telling us as counterintuitive (but correct) and our impulse to disconnect because of our limited and "intuitive" perceptions.

Warwick's robots seemed to have exhibited behaviour not anticipated by the research, one such robot "committing suicide" because it could not cope with its environment.[30] In a more complex setting, it may be asked whether a "natural selection" may be possible, neural networks being the major operative.

The 1999 edition of the Guinness Book of Records recorded that Warwick carried out the first robot learning experiment across the internet. One robot, with an Artificial Neural Network brain in Reading, UK, learnt how to move around. It then taught, via the internet, another robot in SUNY Buffalo New York State, USA, to behave in the same way. The robot in the USA was therefore not taught or programmed by a human, but rather by another robot based on what it itself had learnt.[31]

Hissing Sid was a robot cat which Warwick took on a British Council lecture tour of Russia, it being presented in lectures at such places as Moscow State University. Sid, which was put together as a student project, got its name from the noise made by the Pneumatic actuators used to drive its legs when walking. The robot also appeared on BBC TV's Blue Peter but became better known when it was refused a ticket by British Airways on the grounds that they did not allow animals in the cabin.[32]

Warwick was also responsible for a robotic "magic chair" (based on the SCARA-form UMI RTX[33] arm) which Sir Jimmy Savile used on BBC TV's Jim'll Fix It. The chair provided Jim with tea and stored Jim'll Fix it badges for him to hand out to guests.[34] Warwick even appeared on the programme himself for a Fix it involving robots.[23]

Project Cyborg[edit]

Probably the most famous piece of research undertaken by Warwick (and the origin of the nickname, "Captain Cyborg", given to him by The Register) is the set of experiments known as Project Cyborg, in which he had a chip implanted into his arm, with the aim of "becoming a cyborg".

The first stage of this research, which began on 24 May 1998, involved a simple RFID transmitter being implanted beneath Warwick's skin, and used to control doors, lights, heaters, and other computer-controlled devices based on his proximity. The main purpose of this experiment was said to be to test the limits of what the body would accept, and how easy it would be to receive a meaningful signal from the chip.[35]

The second stage involved a more complex neural interface which was designed and built especially for the experiment by Dr. Mark Gasson and his team at the University of Reading. This device consisted of an internal electrode array, connected to an external "gauntlet" that housed supporting electronics. It was implanted on 14 March 2002, and interfaced directly into Warwick's nervous system. The electrode array inserted contained 100 electrodes, of which 25 could be accessed at any one time, whereas the median nerve which it monitored carries many times that number of signals. The experiment proved successful, and the signal produced was detailed enough that a robot arm developed by Warwick's colleague, Dr Peter Kyberd, was able to mimic the actions of Warwick's own arm.[36]

By means of the implant, Warwick's nervous system was connected onto the internet in Columbia University, New York. From there he was able to control the robot arm in the University of Reading and to obtain feedback from sensors in the finger tips. He also successfully connected ultrasonic sensors on a baseball cap and experienced a form of extra sensory input.[37]

A highly publicised extension to the experiment, in which a simpler array was implanted into the arm of Warwick's wife—with the ultimate aim of one day creating a form of telepathy or empathy using the Internet to communicate the signal from afar—was also successful in-so-far as it resulted in the first direct and purely electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.[38] Finally, the effect of the implant on Warwick's hand function was measured using the University of Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP).[39] It was feared that directly interfacing with the nervous system might cause some form of damage or interference, but no measurable effect nor rejection was found. Indeed, nerve tissue was seen to grow around the electrode array, enclosing the sensor[40]

As well as the Project Cyborg work, Warwick has been involved in several of the major robotics developments within the Cybernetics Department at Reading. These include the "seven dwarves", a version of which was sold in kit form as "Cybot" on the cover of Real Robots magazine.

Implications of Project Cyborg[edit]

Warwick and his colleagues claim that the Project Cyborg research could lead to new medical tools for treating patients with damage to the nervous system, as well as opening the way for the more ambitious enhancements Warwick advocates. Some transhumanists even speculate that similar technologies could be used for technology-facilitated telepathy."[41] Warwick himself asserts that his controversial work is important because it directly tests the boundaries of what is known about the human ability to integrate with computerised systems.[citation needed]

A controversy arose in August 2002, shortly after the Soham murders, when Warwick reportedly offered to implant a tracking device into an 11-year-old girl as an anti-abduction measure. The plan produced a mixed reaction, with support from many worried parents but ethical concerns from a number of children's societies.[citation needed] As a result, the idea did not go ahead.

Anti-theft RFID chips are common in jewelry or clothing in some Latin American countries due to a high abduction rate,[42] and the company VeriChip announced plans in 2001 to expand its line of currently available medical information implants,[43] to be GPS trackable when combined with a separate GPS device.[44][45]

Turing Interrogator[edit]

Warwick has participated as a Turing Interrogator, on two occasions, judging machines in the 2001 and 2006 Loebner Prize competitions, platforms for an 'imitation game' as devised by Alan Turing. The 2001 Prize, held at the Science Museum in London, featured Turing's 'jury service' or one-to-one Turing tests and was won by A.L.I.C.E.[46] The 2006 contest staged parallel-paired Turing tests at University College London and was won by Rollo Carpenter. Kevin's findings can be found in a number of articles with co-author Huma Shah including Turing Test: Mindless Game? – A Reflection on the Loebner Prize – a paper presented at the 2007 European conference on computing and philosophy (ECAP),[47] and Emotion in the Turing Test – a chapter in a new Handbook on Synthetic Emotions and Sociable Robotics: New Applications in Affective Computing and Artificial Intelligence.[48] He organised the 2008 Loebner Prize at the University of Reading; a report on the contest's 'theatre of two Turing tests' can be found here.[49]


Warwick was a member of the 2001 Higher Education Funding Council for England (unit 29) Research Assessment Exercise panel on Electrical and Electronic Engineering and was Deputy Chairman for the same panel (unit 24) in 2008.[50] He also sits on the research committee of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. In March 2009, he was cited as being the inspiration of National Young Scientist of the Year, Peter Hatfield

Awards and recognition[edit]

Warwick was presented with The Future of Health Technology Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was made an Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, was awarded the University of Malta medal from the Edward de Bono Institute and in 2004 received The Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) Achievement Medal.[51]

In 2008 Warwick was awarded the Mountbatten Medal.[52] In 2009 he received the Marcellin Champagnat award from Universidad Marista Guadalajara and the Golden Eurydice Award.[53] In 2011 he received the Ellison-Cliffe Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine.[54]

He has received Honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Aston University,[55] Coventry University,[56] Bradford University,[57][58] University of Bedfordshire,[59] Portsmouth University[60] and Kingston University.[61] He also received an Honorary Doctor of Technology degree from Robert Gordon University.[62][63]

See also[edit]


Warwick has written several books, articles and papers. A selection of his books:

Lectures (inaugural and keynote lectures):

He is a regular presenter at the annual Careers Scotland Space School, University of Strathclyde.

He appeared at the 2009 World Science Festival[72] with Mary McDonnell, Nick Bostrom, Faith Salie and Hod Lipson.


  1. ^ "Ambient Intelligence Lab (AIL) – Ambient Intelligence". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  2. ^ Advisory Board – English – University of Exeter. Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  3. ^ "The Pinkerton Lecture 2012". The Institution of Engineering and Technology. Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  4. ^ Kevin, Warwick (1981). "Self-tuning regulators: A state-space approach". International Journal of Control 33 (5): 839–858. doi:10.1080/00207178108922958. 
  5. ^ Warwick, K: "Relationship between Åström control and the Kalman linear regulator – Caines revisited", Journal of Optimal Control:Applications and Methods, 11(3), pp.223–232, 1990
  6. ^ Warwick,K:"Using the Cayley–Hamilton theorem with N partitioned matrices",IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, AC.28(12),pp.1127–1128, 1983
  7. ^ Warwick, K, Ekwue, A and Aggarwal, R (eds). "Artificial intelligence techniques in power systems", Institution of Electrical Engineers Press, 1997
  8. ^ Sutanto, E and Warwick, K: "Multivariable cluster analysis for high speed industrial machinery", IEE Proceedings – Science, Measurement and Technology, 142, pp. 417–423, 1995
  9. ^ "Rise of the rat-brained robots – tech – 13 August 2008 – New Scientist". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  10. ^ BBC News|Entertainment|To the beat of the byte, 1 July 1998
  11. ^ Radford, Tim (13 July 2003). "University robot ruled too scary". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). 
  12. ^ BBC News |url= missing title (help). 
  13. ^ Kevin Warwick, FAQ, (last question)
  14. ^ Warwick, K: "Implications and Consequences of Robots with Biological Brains", Ethics and Information Technology, 12, pp. 223–234, 2010
  15. ^
  16. ^ PEEP Physics Ethics Education Project: People
  17. ^ Introduction
  18. ^ "Neurotechnology - About the Working Party | Nuffield Council on Bioethics". Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  19. ^ "Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology". Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  20. ^ HuntGrubbe, Charlotte (22 July 2007). "The blade runner generation". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  21. ^ Wu, D., Warwick, K., Ma, Z., Burgess, J., Pan, S. and Aziz, T: “Prediction of Parkinson’s disease tremor onset using radial basis function neural networks”, Expert Systems with Applications, Vol.37, Issue.4, pp. 2923–2928, 2010
  22. ^ 英国类人机器人大赛 寓教于乐两相宜(机器人,教育,科技,发展,英国 ) – 新视界-全球资讯视频总汇
  23. ^ a b c Kevin Warwick
  24. ^ "Cover Browser – Wired Magazine". Wired. 
  25. ^ "Today: Friday 6 March 2009". BBC News. 6 March 2009. 
  26. ^ Cyber don shrugs off attack on credibility
  27. ^ "AISB - Cyborg Off His Christmas Tree by Simon Colton". 2001-12-22. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  28. ^ 12 January 2001 (2001-01-12). "Letter: A Christmas cheer | General". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  29. ^ Housing Revenue Account Subsidy Scheme And Wales. (4 November 2010). Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  30. ^ Warwick, K: “I, Cyborg”, University of Illinois Press, 2004, p 66
  31. ^ Warwick, K: “I, Cyborg”, University of Illinois Press, 2004
  32. ^ "-BA criticised over denying boarding to robotic cat". Airline Industry Information. 22 October 1999. 
  33. ^ UMI. "Inside the UMI RTX Robot Arm". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  34. ^ Delaney, Sam (31 March 2007). "Now then, now then". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-07. 
  35. ^ Wired Magazine 8.02 (February 2000), 'Cyborg 1.0: Interview with Kevin Warwick'. Retrieved 25-12-2006.
  36. ^ Warwick, K, Gasson, M, Hutt, B, Goodhew, I, Kyberd, P, Andrews, B, Teddy, P and Shad, A (2003). "The Application of Implant Technology for Cybernetic Systems". Archives of Neurology 60 (10): 1369–1373. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.10.1369. PMID 14568806. 
  37. ^ Warwick, K, Hutt, B, Gasson, M and Goodhew, I:“An attempt to extend human sensory capabilities by means of implant technology”, Proceedings IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Hawaii, pp.1663–1668, October 2005
  38. ^ Warwick, K, Gasson, M, Hutt, B, Goodhew, I, Kyberd, P, Schulzrinne, H and Wu, X: “Thought Communication and Control: A First Step using Radiotelegraphy”, IEE Proceedings on Communications, 151(3), pp.185–189, 2004
  39. ^ Kyberd, P, Murgia, A, Gasson, M, Tjerks, T, Metcalf, C, Chappell, P, Warwick, K, Lawson, S and Barnhill, T: "Case studies to demonstrate the range of applications of the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure", British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(5), pp.212–218, 2009
  40. ^ Gasson, M.N., Hutt, B.D., Goodhew, I., Kyberd, P., and Warwick, K: "Invasive Neural Prosthesis for Neural Signal Detection and Nerve Stimulation", International Journal of Adaptive Control and Signal Processing, Vol.19:5, pp.365–75, 2005.
  41. ^ George Dvorsky (26 April 2004). "Evolving Towards Telepathy". Betterhumans. Archived from the original on 6 July 2007. 
  42. ^ missingbyline (missingdateline). "missingtitle". Arizona Daily Star. 
  43. ^ VeriChip. "Implantable Verification Solution for SE Asia". Inforlexus. 
  44. ^ Julia Scheeres (25 January 2002). "Kidnapped? GPS to the Rescue". Wired News. 
  45. ^ Julia Scheeres (15 February 2002). "Politician Wants to 'Get Chipped'". Wired News. 
  46. ^ The A. L. I. C. E. Artificial Intelligence Foundation – chatbot – chat bot – chatterbots – verbots – natural language – chatterbot – bot – chat robot – chat bots – AIML – take a Turing Test – Loebner ...
  47. ^ European Computing and Philosophy Conference
  48. ^ Handbook of Research on Synthetic Emotions and Sociable Robotics: New Applications in Affective Computing and Artificial Intelligence, IGI Global
  49. ^ "Can a machine think? – results from the 18th Loebner Prize contest – University of Reading". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  50. ^ Current official RAE website for 2008 exercise
  51. ^ What are the IET Achievement Medals?. The IET. Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  52. ^ – Press Release Distribution (20 November 2008). "Press Release Distribution – PR Agency". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  53. ^ Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  54. ^ "The Royal Society of Medicine > Courses > Ellison-Cliffe Lecture". 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  55. ^ High profile graduates celebrated by Aston University
  56. ^ "Honorary degree delight for outstanding individuals at Coventry University". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  57. ^ Press Releases – Media Centre – University of Bradford. Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  58. ^ Professor Kevin Warwick discusses his honorary degree A.I. and singularity. YouTube (22 July 2010). Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  59. ^ "Achievements". 2000-12-30. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  60. ^ "Honorary graduates announced | UoP News". Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  61. ^
  62. ^ UK (2011-07-27). "World’s First Cyborg Honoured by University | July 11". Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  63. ^ "Honorary degree number four for Professor of Cybernetics - University of Reading". 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  64. ^ Pittsburgh International Science and Technology Festival. ANNUAL REPORT 2003
  65. ^ BHR University Hospitals. "Inaugural Leslie Oliver Oration". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  66. ^ "Events". Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  67. ^ Launch of IDEAS|May 10|Robert Gordon University Events. (13 May 2010). Retrieved on 2011-04-23.
  68. ^ "November 2011 - Bulletin Vol 8 No 10". 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  69. ^ "The Pinkerton lecture - IET Conferences". Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  70. ^ [1][dead link]
  71. ^
  72. ^ "Battlestar Galactica Cyborgs on the Horizon". World Science Festival. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 

External links[edit]