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I Am A Cybernetic Organism

There’s a bizarre subculture that’s been quietly gaining popularity that I‘ve been watching curiously for a couple of years. There are people (usually lurking on the stranger side of the internet) that are intent on merging the human body with technology to create an enhanced living experience. It’s called ‘biohacking’. There is a surprisingly large community of these hackers out there & they are implanting technology into their bodies to allow them to be DIY cyborgs. They walk among us, & we’re none the wiser.

It sounds quite extreme, but implantable technology isn’t up to RoboCop or Terminator standards just yet. Here are just some of the procedures that people have undergone to give themselves new senses or abilities:

  • Implanting rare earth magnets into the hands to sense electromagnetic fields.
  • Implanting radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to allow access to a door / safe / car / smartphone.
  • Implanting a compass that will alert the wearer when facing north.

When you take a step back, we’ve been implanting technology into humans for a while, now. We don’t baulk at pacemakers, deep brain stimulation devices & cochlear implants. I think the big difference here, is that biohacking is not essential or necessary to sustain life. When it’s a voluntary procedure, it opens up a whole new can of worms.

The potential downfalls in these biohack devices can be drawn in parallel to the technology we’re already using. If the microchip in your arm is connected to the web, is it possible to hack a human & infect their implant with a virus much like a laptop? Odd concept. Another concern is that our existing technology is made obsolete every 2-3 years. Would you want to use the same smartphone you were using in 2008? What happens when your microchip is superseded by new iChip 3.0? We live in a time when it’s cheaper to buy a new printer than replace the ink cartridge… & who even prints anymore, anyway? Right?

These concepts are a little unnerving & the whole idea of biohacking is quite unusual. But, these minor body modification concepts are pretty cool. Thanks to biohacking pioneers that are willing to push their bodies to the extreme, we’re effectively moving into an age of science-fiction-come-true. Perhaps biohacking is the tattoos & piercings of the future? Maybe this is the next step in engaging in everyday technology.

Would you get a microchip to save you carrying ID or a credit card? Rather than wear a Fitbit, would you implant a device under your skin to record your heart rate & step count?

It’s only the next step.

- Amber

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