A 61 year old British scientist suffering from a life threatening muscle wasting disease – motor neurone disease or MND, has managed to convert himself fully into a cyborg called Peter 2.0 making him the first to do so.
Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, a robot specialist was diagnosed with MND in 2017. His fate was more or less sealed then with existing scientific evidence showing that most persons with the disease do not survive for more than a few years after diagnosis. He, however was not ready to die and wanted to survive and keep his mental faculties intact despite the progression of his physical illness. What happened next was not less that stuff for science fiction! He decided to exist as a cyborg or a robot.
Dr. Scott-Morgan was admitted to the Intensive care for 24 days where he underwent medical procedures and finally has been able to return home to Torquay, Devon. He calls himself Peter 2.0 now. He underwent complex operations and procedures to reach where he is at present he said. He first developed a life like avatar of his face before the illness wasted his muscles away. This robotic face is capable of respond to body language using artificial intelligence and thus is far from plastic.
He also has eye-tracking technology that allows him to operate his computers with his eyes. He underwent laryngectomy or removal of his voice box to prevent his saliva from entering into lungs due to his muscle weakness. He had to choose his laryngectomy to prevent dying due to aspiration. This also meant that he had lost his speech. On October 10th he had written on social media that he was trading his voice for “potentially decades of life.” Anticipating this recorded his voice and now speaks via machines. That month was the month statistically he was supposed to have died he said.
He had surgery to insert a nasogastric tube directly to his stomach so that he can be fed by passing the mouth and food pipe. He also has a catheter in place within his bladder to empty his urine and a colostomy tube and bag connected to his colon to remove fecal matter from his body. His top-of-the-line wheelchair can not only help him move but also allow him to lie flat, stand and even go fast. The procedures were aimed at making him more independent he said.
All the procedures and treatments that he underwent were labelled as an “end of Peter 1.0 and the start of Peter 2.0” he said. He released a message on social media saying, “Peter 2.0 is now online.” He added jokingly, “Just home from 24 days in Intensive Care. All medical procedures now complete and a huge success. My mini-ventilator keeping me breathing is a LOT quieter than Darth Vader’s. All speech is synthetic but at last sounds like me again. Long research road ahead but in great spirits.”
Last month he had signed off saying that was his “last post as Peter 1.0”. Now he says, “I'm not dying, I'm transforming. Oh, how I love science.” He has had “'unparalleled confidential access,” to banks, corporate and major government organizations say reports. He has earlier worked with technology experts and finally with team efforts has been able to create Peter 2.0 he said. He has worked with cutting edge science in making eye tracking computer operation which he has honed to perfection. He can now control his own bed with his eyes that can hoist him up and also help him move about. To enable his eye tracking technology, he had to undergo laser eye surgery so that he has perfect vision now and can control his computer screen 70 cm away.
He added on his website, “When I say ‘Peter 2.0’, I mean ‘a Cyborg’. And when I say ‘Cyborg’, I don’t just mean any old cyborg, you understand, but by far the most advanced human cybernetic organism ever created in 13.8 billion years.” He wrote, “I’m scheduled to become the world’s very first full Cyborg. Almost everything about me is going to be irreversibly changed – body and brain...It goes without saying that all my physical interaction with the world will become robotic. And naturally, my existing five senses are going to be enhanced. But far more importantly, part of my brain, and all of my external persona, will soon be electronic – totally synthetic...From then on, I’ll be part hardware / part wetware, part digital / part analogue. And it won’t stop there; I’ve got more upgrades in progress than Microsoft. Mine isn’t just a version change. It’s a metamorphosis.”
He said that his intention was to “thrive” and he was not worried about the kind of life these procedures would bring him. He has set up the Scott-Morgan Foundation with his husband, Francis that would research use of artificial intelligence, technology and robotics in helping other people who are “'restricted by age, ill-health, disability, or other physical or mental disadvantage.” Dr Scott-Morgan wrote on his site, “We are within touching distance of changing – everything. I’m not dying – I'm transforming! This is terminal disease like you’ve never seen it before. And as far as I’m concerned, bring it on. MND hasn’t even begun to bring me to my knees. And even long after I’m locked In, I will still be standing tall. Thanks to HiTech – I will talk again. I will convey Emotion and Personality. And I’ll reach out and touch the people I love. And I will not be the only one. Over time, more and more with MND, with extreme disability, with old age, with a passion simply to break free from their physical straight-jacket, will choose to stand beside me. And we will all stand tall. And we will stand proud. And we will stand unbowed. And we will keep standing, year after year after year after year after year…Because we refuse simply to ‘Stay Alive’. We choose to thrive.”