A British scientist who is terminally ill with a muscle wasting disease says he has transformed into “the world’s first full cyborg”.
The 61-year-old announced he was planning to upgrade both his body and brain to become “the most advanced human cybernetic organism ever created in 13.8 billion years”.
And this week the roboticist from Torquay in Devon emerged from 24 days in intensive care to reveal that “Peter 2.0 is now online”.
“All medical procedures now complete and a huge success,” he told his followers online. “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.”
The process has included a series of operations to insert a feeding tube directly into his stomach, a catheter directly into his bladder and a colostomy bag directly on to his colon, to allow him to deal with feeding and toilet problems.
He also underwent a laryngectomy to avoid the added danger of saliva potentially entering his lungs – which he described as trading his natural voice for “potentially decades of life”.
Dr Scott-Morgan now relies on synthetic speech and has developed a life-like avatar of his face, designed to respond using artificially intelligent body language.
He has also explored eye-tracking technology to enable him to control multiple computers, undergoing laser eye surgery to give him perfect vision at 70cm – the distance from his computer screen.
And the scientist described his new wheelchair, which allows him to stand, lie flat and move around with speed, as “brilliantly engineered”.
Dr Scott-Morgan, who was told by experts that he would probably be dead by the end of this year, said last month: “I’m not dying, I’m transforming. Oh, how I love science.”
He also joked that he has “got more upgrades in progress than Microsoft”.
His transition to “cyborg” is charted on his website, which argues that MND should be seen as an opportunity to “upgrade” rather than as a death sentence.
“Over time, more and more with MND, with extreme disability, with old age, with a passion simply to break free from their physical straightjacket, will choose to stand beside me,” he wrote.
“And we will all stand tall. And we will stand proud... because we refuse simply to ‘Stay Alive’.”
The scientist has set up a foundation with his husband husband, Francis, and has lobbied MPs for support for his “Right to Thrive” campaign calling for more funding and a change to healthcare guidelines.
He said fewer than one per cent of those with MND are provided with the “life-saving combination” of a tracheotomy and a cough-assist machine to clear the lungs of phlegm.
“We need to make a noise that rises above the clamour of business as usual and Brexit,” he said. “For far too long, the voice of MND has been largely unheard.”
Additional reporting by SWNS