Published by: Michael Joseph/Penguin Random House
Date released: 01/04/2021
Date read: 02/04/2021
Peter, a brilliant scientist, is told that he will lose everything he loves. His husband. His family. His friends. His ability to travel the world. All will be gone. But Peter will not give up. He vows that this will not be the end and instead seeks a completely new beginning.
Peter has Motor Neurone Disease, a condition universally considered by doctors to be terminal. He is told it will destroy his nerve cells and that within an average of two years, it will take his life too.
But, face-to-face with death, he decides there is another way. Using his background in science and technology, he navigates a new path, one that will enable him not just to survive, but to thrive.
This is the astonishing true story behind the primetime Channel 4 documentary, about Peter Scott-Morgan, the first person to combine his very humanity with artificial intelligence and robotics to become a full Cyborg. His discovery means that his terminal diagnosis is negotiable, something that will rewrite the future. And change the world.
By embracing love, life and hope rather than fear, tragedy and despair, he will become Peter 2.0.
I remember watching Peter’s documentary ‘Peter: The Human Cyborg’ and thinking it had the potential to be really sad and morose, but it was nothing but the complete opposite. Yes there were sad moments – especially when he went in to have a laryngectomy (an operation which removes the larynx, otherwise known as the voice box), which meant he knew he’d wake up no longer able to use his natural voice, knowledge that must really play with your mind. But it was mostly inspiring. I’ve known people with disabilities for many years and generally they don’t want to be known as an inspiration or anything of the like. They’re just them. But what Peter has done and continues to do for, not only the MND community, but everyone with some kind of physical or mental disability is, I’m afraid, truly inspirational.
At the very basic level, Peter is a scientific and robotic expert who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2017. A condition with a life expectancy generally of two years (and yet, here we are, double that time) after diagnosis. Instead of simply accepting his fate, Peter, along with his devoted husband Francis, and a number of industry friends, decided he would merge his natural self with artificial intelligence to keep his body and mind working even when its physical form began to shut down.
In my experience, I have seen children and young adults use technology such as eye-gauges to spell out sentences, use head switches to steer their wheelchairs, to use machines to speak for them, to use tubes to feed them. So not everything Peter was doing was completely alien to me, but he was doing it on such a grand scale that it seems to be the norm. And hopefully one day it will be, and it will give people hope in the future that these conditions which were once seen as, to put it bluntly, death sentences, don’t have to be.
As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve had my own experiences with neurologists, going round in circles, having test after test, and currently, sitting with no answers, but still experiencing debilitating symptoms. Reading a story like Peter’s, you start to think it’s pathetic to whine about your own misgivings when he’s managing to stay as positive as he is. But at the same time, you realise it doesn’t matter if someone is worse off or better off than you. You are entitled to your own pain and emotions and to experience them just as everyone else.
I continue to follow Peter’s story and the hope he instils in anyone with a life-threatening condition. His story should be read by anyone who just needs that extra encouragement to own your condition, own your symptoms, own your pain, and ultimately, own your life.