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University of Reading, United Kingdom

The role of Reading University within the NOE is focused specifically from a technical angle on identity and privacy issues. The group has considerable experience in the evolution of post-human entities (linking humans and technology together) as well as tagging and tracking applications, especially through implant technology and in Ambient Intelligence (AmI) environments. Identity evolution is central to the research, as is the impact on society and ethical concerns and indeed the actual feasibilities, including interoperability, from a technical viewpoint. Exploring realistic high tech ID scenarios is a main drive in addition to the systems and standards issues. A specific interest is that of the evolution of identity perception in collective ‘Cyborg’ scenarios and the contrast with that of the typical human concept of self. As well as their unique technical contribution, the Reading team expects to contribute considerably to publication deliverables, workshop presentations and the general dissemination of knowledge and results.


The University of Reading, situated west of London, became a University College over 100 years ago and received its Royal Carter in 1926. Its Department of Cybernetics offers degree courses covering the diverse aspects of the Cybernetics discipline and executes research across the subject area to the highest standards. In light of this, the department has been awarded the highest grade (5) in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) for its internationally leading research.


The reputation of the Department is particularly acknowledged in the areas of robotics, human augmentation (Cyborgs), Human Machine Interaction (HMI) and machine (artificial) intelligence, and regularly entertains internationally leading researchers in these fields. Recent work using neurosurgically implanted devices to interface machines with humans on a neural level has put the department in a strong position as a world leader in this field.


Research conducted in 2002 concerning human implantation culminated in a series of groundbreaking experiments: 

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Neural signals were transmitted from the human nervous system in New York via the Internet to control a robotic prosthesis in the UK.

Neural signals were decoded real-time to control the motion of a wheelchair.

Neural signals were used to interact with domestic appliances within a ubiquitous computing (ambient intelligence) environment.

The individual’s senses were augmented with an additional (ultrasonic) sense.

The first direct communication between the implanted nervous systems of two individuals was achieved.



Importantly, the department continues a prominent program of Public Awareness of Science, which aims to relay the potential impact of current technology research on society, as well as help people understand the implications and probable limitations of future technological development. To this end, the department conducts lectures, programs and workshops at international events, and has close links with the international media.


To date, the research has been centrally concerned with the identity evolution and privacy implications of human augmentation, especially within a networked or collective domain.


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