Scientist with motor neurone disease who transformed himself into the world’s first cyborg says he has ‘exceptional’ quality of life and is no longer ‘one of the living dead’
- Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, 62, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017
- He decided to extend his life and push the boundaries of science with robotics
- Scientist appeared on This Morning today with partner of 45 years, Francis, 65
- Says his overall quality of life has been wonderful since transitioning to cyborg
A scientist who transformed himself into the world’s first cyborg due to a muscle- wasting disease says his quality of life is ‘exceptional’.
Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, 62, from, Torquay, Devon, decided to challenge what it meant to be human when was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, using robotics to extend his life.
Appearing on This Morning today with his partner Francis, 65, Peter said that after fully transitioning to ‘part human, part machine’ into November 2019 he’s ‘not just surviving, but thriving’.
He said he’s always believed he could ‘change everything whatever the odds’ with knowledge and technology after being inspired by sci-fi programmes Doctor Who and Star Trek as a child.
Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, 62, from, Torquay, Devon transformed himself into the world’s first cyborg due to a muscle wasting disease diagnosis five years ago
Appearing on This Morning today with partner Francis, 65, Peter said that after fully transitioning to ‘part human, part machine’ in 2019 his quality of life is ‘exceptional’
‘In short, as a transitioning cyborg my overall quality of life is exceptional,’ he said. ‘I have love, I have fun, I have hope, I have dreams and I have purpose and did I mention, I’m still alive.
‘Really alive, not just one of the living dead, not just surviving, thriving. So when you ask the best thing in the last four years, not being dead is right up there.
Turning to his partner of 45 years Francis he added: ‘But the very best thing, obviously, he’s sitting next to me.’
The world-renowned roboticist has had to undergo a series of incredibly complex and risky operations during his journey.
The world-renowned roboticist explored the use of eye-tracking technology to enable him to control multiple computers using only his eyes
He has created a remarkably life-like avatar designed to respond using artificially intelligent body language (left)
This has included developing a remarkably life-like avatar before he lost any of the muscles in his face used to create expressions. The avatar is designed to respond using artificially intelligent body language.
Dr Scott-Morgan has also explored the use of eye-tracking technology to enable him to control multiple computers using only his eyes.
And the final procedure in his robot transition saw him successfully trade his voice for potentially decades of life.
He underwent a laryngectomy, meaning he lost his physical voice, but in doing so, he will avoid the added danger of saliva potentially entering his lungs, due to his condition.
Peter, pictured with Francis, said he’s always believed he could ‘change everything whatever the odds’ with knowledge and technology after being inspired by sci-fi programmes Doctor Who and Star Trek as a child
Peter, pictured with Francis in 2005, says the ‘very best thing’ about his life is his partner of 45 years Francis
What procedures has Peter had during his robot transition?
After being diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, Peter first had to have three operations while he was still relatively healthy.
The procedures, which could all be conducted at once, were a gastrostomy, a cystostomy and a colostomy. These operations, which he called a tripleostomy, allowed tubes to be inserted directly into his stomach, bladder and colon for his eating and toileting needs.
Next, Peter had his voice cloned by training a computer to sound like him. This was done in a five-hour session, where he was given thousands of phrases to record. This meant when he could no longer speak, an AI system listens and prompts him with phrases, which he picks with eye-tracking technology.
Peter has also had laser eye surgery to give himself perfect computer-using vision and began using a top-end wheelchair, which lets him move around quickly, stand and lie flat.
He also built an avatar to look exactly like him, which he could use when his face muscles stopped working. Peter had to pull a range of facial expressions on a huge motion-capture stage and again in a photo booth of more than 50 cameras to create his avatar.
His final procedure was a laryngectomy, which removes the larynx (voice box) and separates the airway from the mouth, nose and oesophagus.
Peter can never speak without a synthesiser again but the operation prevents saliva or food entering his windpipe and causing fatal pneumonia.
Peter previously labelled this treatment as the end of Peter 1.0 and the start of Peter 2.0.
Dr Scott-Morgan had previously labelled this treatment as the end of Peter 1.0 and the start of Peter 2.0.
Francis explained: ‘Peter soon found out that the thing with motor neurone disease its more of a mechanical and plumbing issue if you like, because the motor neurone disease itself doesn’t actually kill you, all your internal organs remain perfectly well, they all function.
‘The thing that does kill you eventually is the fact your muscles can’t work your lungs, you don’t have that gas exchange in your lungs and your oxygen levels goes down and you pass away because of that.
‘Peter very soon realised if you can solve some of these engineering problems and keep the lungs going, actually you have a near normal life expectancy, albeit you get locked in.’
Peter says that, according to Pinewood Studios who are creating his next avatar, his figure will eventually be indistinguishable from a real person.
The scientist said he never stopped believing that technology was his way out following his diagnosis, adding that he wants to ‘completely re-write the future of disability.’
‘For one simple reason, all my early science education game from Doctor Who and Star Trek.
‘Every week I learned if you’re smart enough and brave enough and have access to enough super cool technology then whatever he odds you can change everything.’
He went on: ‘Francis and I became so passionate abut this that a year ago we set up a charitable body called the Scott-Morgan Foundation to act as the focus for a hugely ambitious research progamme stretching across decades.
‘We have been unbelievably lucky in being able to attract some of the world’s top brains to get involved, our mission is to completely re-write the future of disability.’