Meet Peter 2.0: One step closer to the Singularity

When Dr Peter Scott-Morgan was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, he decided to challenge what it means to be human.

Peter 2.0 is now online.” That was the message from a terminally ill scientist who has completed his transition into the world’s first fully functioning human cyborg.

Dr Scott-Morgan is one of the world’s leading roboticists working with major corporations and experts, such as Intel, to apply cutting-edge tech to deal with extreme disability. In 2017 he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and only given until this year to live.

The condition means he will eventually lose all movement in his body except for his eyes. Thanks to a series of pioneering and high-risk operations, he has extended his life expectancy, but that has come at the cost of his voice.

His response has been to use all his expertise and contacts to become fully robotic. He benefits from what he describes as ‘unparalleled confidential access’ to Government organisations, banks and corporations.

Working with leading experts, Dr Scott-Morgan has created ‘Peter 2.0’, a digital avatar mimicking his voice and movements to allow him to ‘thrive’ as a robot.

Longevity.Technology: The creation of Peter 2.0 is the start of a long road which will revolutionise what it means to be human – we’ve addressed Kurzweil’s views on the Singularity, and while this section of our Longevity landscape is a bit thin on content, this story demonstrates that an alternative digital existence is part of Longevity’s scope. Machines and humans will continue to combine to overcome disabilities and extend life into the digital domain and to ultimately become a Longevity option for those prepared to sublime.

In a video message his avatar said: “On 10th October 2019 Peter 1.0 will say his very last words, but by then I will be fully operational and I will come online. For decades to come, I will keep Peter’s personality alive and for all the time I will continue to evolve, dying as a human and living as a cyborg [1].”

His cyborg self is continuing to evolve and has ‘more updates coming than Microsoft.’ Writing on his website [2] he said: “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.” [3]

From then on, he says, he intends to be a mixture of hardware and wetware; part digital and analogue. It is, he says, more than just a change ‘it’s a metamorphosis’.

Since his diagnosis, Peter has undergone a series of pioneering but extremely risky operations to extend his life. The most recent was a laryngectomy which potentially gives him ‘decades more life’ but removes his ability to speak. Eventually, the condition will rob him of all movement except his eyes.

Peter’s pioneering work will allow him to ‘thrive rather than survive’. The avatar can respond intelligently to the world, with his own speech, personality and movements. He also benefits from a highly advanced wheelchair which enables him to stand, lie flat and move quickly; he’s also exploring using his eyes to control multiple computers including the ability to raise and move his bed.

Technology can transform the prospects of people with motor neurone disease. Now, as he returns home to Torquay and his husband Francis, Peter is focusing on evolving the technology and ensuring everyone can enjoy the same cutting-edge healthcare that has helped him.

His Right to Thrive [4] campaign aims to combat the postcode lottery which means that access to quality healthcare often depends on where someone lives. The goal is to ensure that advances in healthcare become universally available.

The TRL score for this Longevity.Technology domain is currently set at: ‘Preliminary idea with well characterised theoretical case.’

The TRL score for the technology addressed in this article is: “Early proof of concept demonstrated in the laboratory.”


Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo