Warren, W.J.


electrical engineer, active 1940s-1960s

W.J. (‘Bunny’) Warren was an electrical engineer at the Burden Neurological Institute, Bristol, an independent research unit specialising in the investigation and treatment of neurological, psychological, and psychiatric disorders. Warren was a key player in the Burden’s research programme during the 1950s, building an advanced 2-channel electroencephalograph (EEG, a device designed to measure the electrical activity of the brain) with colleague Harold Shipton (1920-2007) in 1957.

Warren also played an important role in mid-twentieth-century British cybernetics through his collaborations with neurophysiologist William Grey Walter (1910-1977). Warren built improved prototypes of Walter’s famous robot tortoises, or Machina Speculatrix, which later went on display at the Festival of Britain in 1951. Their partnership continued in 1953, when Warren constructed CORA (Conditioned Reflex Analogue), an early experiment in artificial intelligence which attempted to replicate classical conditioning in humans and animals, from Walter’s designs.