[Paleopsych] silicon.com: Could future computer viruses infect humans?
checker at panix.com
Fri Jan 21 15:06:05 UTC 2005
Could future computer viruses infect humans?
by Jo Best
November 12, 2004
Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at Reading University and a
man who has wired up his nervous system to a computer and put an RFID
chip in his arm, is looking forward to becoming a cyborg once again -
but warned the day will come when computer viruses can infect humans
as well as PCs.
Speaking this week at Consult Hyperion's fifth Digital Identity Forum,
Warwick said the time would come when those who weren't cyborgs would
be considered the odd ones out.
"For those of you that want to stay human... you'll be a subspecies in
the future," he said.
Warwick believes that there are advantages for a human being to be
networked to a computer.
Networking a human brain would mean an almost "infinite knowledge
base", he said, adding it would be akin to "upgrading humans... giving
us abilities we dont already have".
Warwick says the security problems that dog modern computing won't be
much different from those that could plague the cyborgs of the future.
"We're looking at software viruses and biological viruses becoming one
and the same," he said. "The security problems [will] be much, much
greater... they will have to become critical in future."
If humans were networked, the implications of being hacked would be
far more serious and attitudes towards hackers would be radically
changed, he added.
"Now, hackers' illegal input into a network is tolerated," said
Warwick, but if humans were connected to the internet and hacks
carried out, "this would be pushing the realms of tolerance".
With his own networking experiments, in which he used his body's
connectivity to operate a mechanical arm in the US, Warwick didn't
publicise the IP address of his arm in case someone hijacked it.
While the idea of networked humans may be a significant way off,
Warwick's experiments are intended to have a practical purpose. He has
been working with Stoke Mandeville hospital on the possible
implications of the networked nervous system for those with spinal
injuries; for example, to enable people to control a wheelchair
through their nervous system.
Nevertheless, Warwick said the idea of marrying humanity and
technology isn't currently a popular one. Talking of his RFID
experiments, he said: "I got a lot of criticism, I don't know why."
Putting RFID chips in arms is now more than a novelty. Party goers at
one club in Barcelona can choose to have RFID chips implanted in their
arms as a means of paying for their drinks and some Mexican law
enforcement officials had the chips implanted as a means of fending
off attempted kidnappings.
The US Food and Drug Administration has also recently approved the
use of RFID in humans. One potential application would be allowing
medical staff to draw information on a patient's health from the chip.
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