Movie review: Limerick doctor is the Father of the Cyborgs

A documentary about Dr Phil Kennedy, the Limerick-born neurologist who pioneered technology allowing human brains be connected to machines
Movie review: Limerick doctor is the Father of the Cyborgs

Father of the Cyborgs: Dr Phil Kennedy, Limerick

The Father of the Cyborgs

★★★★☆

Father of the Cyborgs with Dr Phil Kennedy
Father of the Cyborgs with Dr Phil Kennedy

The Father of the Cyborgs (12A) sounds like the worst kind of sci-fi B-movie; in fact it’s a documentary about Dr Phil Kennedy, the Limerick-born neurologist who pioneered the technology that allows human brains to be connected to machines.

In theory, the science should allow people experiencing ‘locked-in syndrome’ — those suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, for example — to communicate with the world via their brainwaves; unfortunately, Dr Kennedy’s big breakthroughs came decades ago, and he has been ploughing a lonely furrow ever since.

His enthusiasm remains undiminished, however: Dr Kennedy has successfully created six ‘cyborgs’, or humans who have had implants inserted into their brains, with the sixth being himself (in 2014, Dr Kennedy persuaded the Belize neurosurgeon Dr Joel Cervantes to insert an implant in his perfectly healthy brain).

Neurology advancements in The Father of the Cyborgs
Neurology advancements in The Father of the Cyborgs

It’s a fascinating documentary on a number of levels, in part because it’s a story that could very easily provide the plot to the sci-fi B-movie its title suggests, but also for the ethical questions that this latest technology will very soon oblige us to answer. (cinema release)

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