Some coworkers and I were talking about Steven Hawking, famous physicist from Cambridge University (seen at right, photo not mine). Apparently he made some comments a few years back that he was concerned computers could some day take over and overpower mankind, like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Matrix.
Since making those comments, it’s my understanding that he has lost some control of his hands due to the progression of his illness (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a.k.a Lou Gehrig’s disease). He previously used his hands to control the computer which allows him to speak, and possibly his wheelchair too. My understanding is that he’s currently controlling his systems through a series of eye blinks. Part of me is worried about what will happen when he loses control over even that ability, and essentially becomes silent and still, in spite of his brilliance.
But then another part of me sees an ironic opportunity. As we were talking, the idea came up that if he were unable to control his chair or speech computer, why not hook it up to some wifi and a web interface, and allow others to take a turn? Go to the website, drive Dr. Hawking around, say things to strangers passing by… what fun! And no one would be the wiser.
I’m not so worried anymore. I’m sure it’ll work out.