Cheating Death

Cheating Death

Given that Cheating Death felt like a suitable hobby for a scientist like me with an ‘invariably terminal’ disease, I invested the next year (half my official time left on the planet), seven days a week, kicking-off the research on my own. And publicising what I was doing. A heroic multidisciplinary team in the NHS agreed to conduct pioneering surgery on me. The excellent Melanie Reid wrote an article about me. Three TV companies approached me asking to make a documentary of my quest; I went with Channel 4.

Having a primetime-documentary film crew behind me gave me sufficient Impulse Power to at last break free of the gravitational pull of tradition, lack of awareness, and possibly sometimes even lack of ambition, that appeared to be holding the international MND community exclusively in a tight orbit around Biomedical Research and nothing else.

I persuaded top-end wheelchair manufacturer Permobil to agree to integrate other people’s Hi-Tech into the standing chair I’d bought from them. SmartBox, the inventors of the Grid-3 interface many people use with Eye Tracking, began to think how the different computing systems I’d bought could best all communicate together. Then the super-advanced speech-synthesiser company CereProc agreed to explore how to future-proof my voice in new ways. And nine specialist firms began creating an avatar of my face.

It was all great stuff. None of the research had ever been done before. But petty barriers blocked us. Everything was still too slow. Still too unambitious. We were only approaching the Moon. At this pace, we’d never reach the Stars.

We didn’t just need a x2 or x3 improvement. We needed x100. Or x1000.

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