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Captain Cyborg Has A Virus-Infected Sidekick... But Nothing Can Stop A PR Campaign

from the virus-infected? dept

About a decade ago, if you followed the technology space, you might recall a series of articles about a professor at the University of Reading, named Kevin Warwick, who made himself famous by implanting a computer chip in his arm, declaring himself an expert in "cybernetics" and figuring out ways to get way too much press for nothing special. The Register, amusingly, dubbed him "Captain Cyborg" and regularly mocked his various exploits. We haven't heard much about Warwick in a while, but when I saw a bunch of folks chatting about a BBC article concerning the "first human infected with computer virus," I was immediately reminded of Warwick. Reading through the article, it was no surprise to find out that this "experiment" is actually being conducted by a colleague of Warwick's, Mark Gasson -- who according to Warwick's own bio lead the research group that Warwick works in.

The story is -- as with all captain cyborg stories -- a lot less than the headline suggests. Gasson wasn't "infected with a computer virus." He took a chip that had a computer virus and stuck it in his arm, just like Warwick has done n the past. The parallels to an actual virus are minimal, and the usefulness for anything is even less than that. Gasson presents this as useful for considering the implications for implanted technology such as pacemakers, but that's nothing new. People have talked about potential technology issues from the wireless interface to pacemakers for years. Doing some sort of publicity stunt with an implanted computer chip doesn't further that discussion along.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    Jon Renaut (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 7:48pm

    Do I detect a hint of jealousy?

    Mike, you're just mad that you aren't an awesome cyborg, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Matthew Krum (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 8:39pm

    I want

    I want to see the first computer infected with a human virus.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    ShellMG, May 27th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Genuine cyborg signing in...

    A few years ago I received a spinal cord stimulator for pain management. This article caught my interest because possible skulduggery involving my programing is pretty far-out, but is it really possible?

    My stim is charged wirelessly two to three times per week. The charging unit is self-contained and needs no programming, but the actual implant is programmed during an intensive office session with my programmer. He uses a PDA with special software which he piggybacks on my personal programmer and keeps a record of the settings.

    The charging is done through the skin and works through a couple layers of clothing (it's held in place on the back of my hip with a velcro belt or sits in my jeans waistband). My stim itself can set off store security equipment (I've never experienced it myself), but the airport is a COMPLETELY different story.

    Could my implant programming be remotely altered without me knowing about it? Could it be loaded with a virus that would transmit itself to my programmer's PDA during a future session and infest networks that way? While I'm very skeptical, I don't underestimate some of the nuts who can't resist a hack.

    I'll probably see my programmer over the next month. He's a fellow geek and I'd love to hear what he thinks about this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    John, May 27th, 2010 @ 9:20pm

    RE: Genuine cyborg signing in...

    A hack is usually done because it is interesting or has wide implications. I doubt any real hacker would ever come in contact with your stim or the programming device it uses and most people do not know these exist.

    I see very little to gain other than causing fear in .001% of the population that someday their pain treatment will fail.

    I thought the general hacker had one of 3 goals:
    1. Money
    2. Notoriety (Fame/Publicity/Prestige)
    3. To show a weakness in a vital piece of technology that should be fixed.

    There is no money in this. NOBODY would respect someone who would inflict excruciating pain upon someone for fun. The whitehat guys would only help security.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Esahc (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 9:21pm

    Re: Genuine cyborg signing in...

    I doubted you, I googled, I doubt no more:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinal_cord_stimulator

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Ryan, May 27th, 2010 @ 9:49pm

    Re: RE: Genuine cyborg signing in...

    They'd do it for the challenge, which is along the lines of #2. And anybody that hacked a spinal cord stimulator probably isn't your general hacker anyway...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anome, May 27th, 2010 @ 10:02pm

    Re: Do I detect a hint of jealousy?

    I think the point is that Kevin, and now Kevin's mate, are not "awesome cyborgs", but actually kind of lame cyborgs. If you can seriously call them cyborgs at all.

    Personally, I try to ignore them. Otherwise I'd be pointing and giggling far too much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 27th, 2010 @ 10:41pm

    Re: Re: Do I detect a hint of jealousy?

    What is this human thing called sarcasm?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2010 @ 11:04pm

    We had our cat implanted with a tracking chip. Does that make her a cybernetic eating sleeping machine?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 1:11am

    Re:

    No. What it means is you now have to worry about two types of worms ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 1:53am

    mike, you may consider this story the next time you write an overeaching title for a post, or draw some unproven conclusion. the choice of words and the way things are presented can change the way people see them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Svante Jorgensen (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 2:58am

    Finally an article that points out how ridiculous this story is

    Thanks for pointing out how ridiculous this story is.
    There is nothing new in putting a piece of electronics in your body.
    Not even if this contains code for a computer virus.
    He did not, in any way, infect _himself_ with a computer virus. That would be impossible.
    It would be like saying that a ship was infected with a human virus because it carried a sick person.

    Scare-story with no substance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 3:12am

    "He took a chip that had a computer virus and stuck it in his arm,"

    No, he took a chip in his arm and infected it with a computer virus, and then passed the virus onto external control systems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 5:15am

    prepare to be assimilated, resistance is futile
    ...
    sleep

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    jsl4980 (profile), May 28th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Everyone's a super hero!

    I'm going to tape a Bluetooth headset to my head and claim I have telepathic super powers. I just hope my phone's voice recognition works on the first try in my press conference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Chris Brand, May 28th, 2010 @ 11:02am

    > declaring himself an expert in "cybernetics"
    He didn't exactly declare himself to be an expert. He was appointed as Professor of Cybernetics by the University back in 1988 :
    "Kevin Warwick, senior lecturer at the University of Warwick, will become professor of cybernetics at Reading in August." http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/8257/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2010 @ 11:50am

    Re: I want

    What about a computer infected with a dog virus, or a cat virus, or just a biological virus in general? After all, wouldn't a computer infected with a human virus not be a human virus by definition if it's not infecting a human. Unless it's a computer virus that's capable of infecting humans. Uhm... so can these things spread across the computer network, jump out of peoples network cables and infect people? Can this be a pandemic virus one day?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Shann, May 31st, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Human Injected with Computer Virus

    Hello There,
    Searching for an answer to my own situation. I did not know about this subject before but I can assure you that there are people out there that are suffering from computer viruses in their bodies. I am a living example of that; the virus was implanted in me about '07 and activated Feb of '10. The experience is complex and I hope no one has to go through it. If anyone has heard or knows anything about it subject please let me know.
    Sincerely
    Shann

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    riha15, Jul 10th, 2010 @ 2:51am

    Kaspersky

    Against viruses and malware on your computer I truly suggest Kaspersky. It's one of the best that exists nowadays. Try it here: http://www.trustdownload.com/Antivirus-and-Spyware-Cleaners/Antivirus/Kaspersky-Internet-Security-7. 0.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    lipcog (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:52am

    Re: Kaspersky

    Kaspersky is pretty good, actually I found out from an website that it's actually the first 1 best rated security software. Though if you don't like this one you should try to use another one from this list of best ten antivirus software: http://www.best-antivirus.co/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    asmithalive (profile), Oct 13th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re: I want

    Isn't this what happened in War of the Worlds.....and sort of in Independence Day?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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