Saturday, March 16, 2013

DIY Cybernetics

DIY Cybernetics is already a reality.

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.

6 comments:

  1. Extremely cool...and pretty chilling. You won't see me jabbing myself with a vegetable peeler anytime soon, even for tech installation.

    I blogged about something similar last May.

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    1. I agree completely, what that woman does gives me the willies—but the idea of being able to get cybernetics is just too cool! Hopefully, clinics or some kind of sanitary installation facility will start offering implants in the next few years. (Probably not likely, but I'd love to see it happen!)

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  2. Wow! Sticking a potato peeler in my hand - on purpose - not happening.

    I don't know if I'd want implants or not. It would be cool to be able to see in the dark, have super hearing, or whatever ingenious upgrade it might be. On the other hand, I kind of like myself the way I am; flawed and human. I'd probably get used to it, but having a foreign object in my body seems... creepy.

    I've probably watched too many movies, but I can't help but wonder how long it would take until a super-computer kept track of every person on the planet, checking where we are at all times. All in the name of science, of course. ;-)

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    1. I almost hate to say this, but if you have a GPS enabled phone, you already have a computer tracking you. I find that thought creepy, and yet, the advantages seem to keep me from buying a "less-advanced" phone. lol.

      Honestly, I wish all of the cool tech didn't have to come with this invasive "we track you all the time" stuff that seems to be ubiquitous these days.

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  3. I seem to recall reading about a geek type in the US who had an implant that let him connect with all the gadgetry installed in his house. I'm sure we'll be going down that track quite soon.

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    1. Was that the guy who rigged his house to turn lights and appliances on when he walked in the room via his RFID chip?

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