Can a Computer Virus Read Your Mind?

He grows biological brains in a dish and connects them to robots. He calls the brain “a squidgy mass of biology.”

He infects his own body with a computer virus.

He plants rays of electrodes into a colleague’s spine and simulates involuntary movement using electrical impulses.

No, this is not out of a science fiction novel or a horror movie. He is Dr. Mark Gasson, a distinguished scientist at the University of Reading.

Recently, Dr. Mark Gasson became the first person to transfer a computer virus from himself to a database, and from a computer database to himself. Here are excerpts from his interview with

You recently managed to transfer a computer virus to yourself. How did that happen?

A little over a year ago now, I had an RFID device implanted in my left hand, and I used it for accessing my building at the university, and my laboratory.

What we’ve done is used the tag to conduct two experiments. One is infecting the tag with the computer virus, which means that when I try to access the building, the computer virus is actually transferred to the database which controls secure access to the building. So when we infected the database, that in turn infected other devices which were used to access the building.

The other experiment we’ve done is infecting the computer system first, and then allowing that to transfer itself to my device. So in effect, we’ve got a virus spreading from my implant to the building, or from the building to my implant.

How does infecting a chip affect the person?

If someone created a virus which could interfere with the functioning of a heart pacemaker, then that puts the person’s health at risk. A lot of medical devices don’t have any security or access control. So if you know how to talk to these devices, you can go right in.

Is the idea that at some point, you can download and upload information into human beings, a far-fetched one?

I don’t think we can say it’s not possible. Two or three hundred years ago, they’d never have thought it would be possible to walk around with a box that you could communicate with someone in a different country. So even though to us, something actually doesn’t seem possible, I don’t think we can dismiss it.

To find out why, learn about his experiment with growing biological brains and read the rest of the interview, go to

Nandini Krishnan

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