This week's post was inspired by a Slate.com article titled "Choose Your Own Sixth Sense" about how people, right now, are doing what amounts to do-it-yourself-cybernetic surgery to give themselves abilities one normally associates with science fiction.
The article covers people referred to as "Bio-Hackers" and "Grinders," both somewhat new terms to me, who take items like magnetic sensors, and RFID chips and put them in their bodies themselves using everyday household items like knives, and even—shudder—a vegetable peeler as a surgical instrument. One man put a magnetic sensor in his finger so he could detect things like the battery dying in his friend's laptop, while a woman in Scottland (the one with the vegetable peeler) has installed an RFID chip, a temperature sensor, and a magnetic sensor all in the comfort of her own home.
|RFID chip freshly implanted|
Photo by Amal Graafstra
Via Wikimedia Commons
Whereas the idea of using a kitchen utensil to put electronics into my body isn't exactly the most appealing thing I can think of, I do have to admit that if the opportunity came up for some kind of professional implant I would probably be game to try it. Right now, as far as I know, such experimental cybernetic surgeries are still restricted to the realm of research like that sited in this Project Cyborg article where a man was implanted with an electronic network that allowed him to remotely control a robotic arm and a wheelchair. I have to think after reading the Slate.com article, however, that such oddly invasive yet empowering implant options aren't that far away from being on the market.
Imagine walking into the Apple store or Best Buy and coming out with an iPhone beneath the skin of your forearm, or the ability to see in the dark via infrared retinal implants. Is this something the next generation will regard as commonplace? Is this type of opt-in surgery something we'll see more of in the coming decade? I'm willing to bet it is.