PART MAN, PART MACHINE

Communication is everything. It was essential to me to be able to express my personality and emotions through this. You may have noticed that, at the moment, my avatar can’t smile. If it tries, I look even more gormless than usual! Fortunately, as my muscles shut down it now seems that, like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, my smile will be the last thing to disappear. So we should get my avatar sorted just in time. But frankly, after that, if you look at biological Peter it’ll be pretty boring. But that’s not ME! My Peter 2.0 avatar, which according to the team at Pinewood Studios working on it will eventually be indistinguishable from a real person, is as close to the REAL me as you’ll ever see. Part man, part machine. All human. And still very much alive!

I actually wrote an essay at school saying I thought everybody would end up linked to AI and therefore be part machine. Even then, I sort of took it for granted, as I do now. But I had absolutely NO intention of being the human guinea-pig that had to suffer all the buggy software and system crashes! It’s literally become the experiment of my life! And yes, as a scientist, AND as a prototype, I’m very optimistic about the power of AI and robotics to transform our expectations of what it means to be old. Even in terms of becoming forgetful or getting dementia. We are at the early dawn of escaping the fear of becoming infirm, of being powerless, of feeling trapped in an inadequate body. Some people are pessimistic about AI and humanity. But I have to say, from my perspective, from everything I know, I feel incredibly excited about our future. Our adolescent species is about to come of age. Grow up. Become less fearful. Feel more FREE than we have ever felt. And I for one intend to see just how many people we can liberate!   

In short, as a transitioning Cyborg, my overall quality of life is exceptional. I have love. I have fun. I have hope. I have dreams. I have purpose. Oh, and did I mention, I’m still alive. I mean REALLY alive. Not just one of the living dead. Not just surviving. THRIVING! 

So, if you ask what is the best thing of the last four years, not being dead is right up there! As is the extraordinary kindness of total strangers. But the VERY best thing? Obviously. He’s sitting next to me. A few days ago, Francis and I celebrated 42 years of being a couple in love. That’s all our adult lives. He’s the reason I’m DOING this. Of COURSE I have no intention of leaving him alone now, after all we’ve been through. And the fact that we’re still together, still fighting back-to-back whatever Fate throws at us, the fact that every single day he proves that he loves me far more than I deserve, how could I think that anything was better than that? Francis is, has always been, will forever be, the very best POSSIBLE thing in my life.

The pioneering scientist Peter Scott-Morgan was interviewed by Hay Festival President Stephen Fry. Watch the event of Saturday 29 May 2021 again on Hay Player