In America, a dedicated amateur community — the “biohackers” or “grinders” — has been experimenting with implantable technology for several years. Amal Graafstra, a 38-year-old programmer and self-styled “adventure technologist”, has been inserting various types of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips into the soft flesh between his thumbs and index fingers since 2005. The chips can be read by scanners that Graafstra has installed on the doors of his house, and also on his laptop, which gives him access with a swipe of his hand without the need for keys or passwords. He sells it to a growing crowd of “geeky, hacker-type software developers,” he tells me, direct from his website, Dangerous Things, having used crowdfunding to pay for the manufacturing (he raised almost five times his target amount).
Cyborgs are among us. Whether they’re trying to regain lost sense or extend the human body, it’s an interesting story. From the man regaining use of his hands, to the colorblind artist regaining the ability to see color through sound.
This is a fascinating area of experimentation. I’ve often thought about how fragile human beings are. We can’t be too hot. We can’t be too cold. We need to eat and sleep. We are frail and fragile beings that rely on a complex system of tools to get us by.
I don’t see much difference in the tools we already wear, carry and use with putting those tools directly into our bodies. There are even things you can buy and implant into yourself today.
I don’t have much of an interest in adding things to my body, but the article points out how quickly attitudes change.
… but attitudes change fast. “It can flip very quickly,” says Kevin Warwick. “Take something like laser eye surgery. About 15 years ago people were saying ‘Don’t go blasting my eyes out’ and now they’re saying ‘Don’t bother with contact lenses’.”
If you’re interested in learning more about transhumans, watch Neil Harbisson’s TED talk about his implant that lets him hear color. Amal Graafstra’s talk at TEDxSFU explains how he was frustrated with having to manage a ring of keys and wished he could instead use an RFID implant to unlock doors. So he made it a reality.
- Neil Harbisson: I listen to color | Talk Video | TED.com
I think life will be much more exciting when we stop creating applications for mobile phones and start creating applications for our body.
- Biohacking – the forefront of a new kind of human evolution: Amal Graafstra at TEDxSFU – YouTube
Ever wished you could unlock doors, turn on your lights, or log into your computer with a simple swipe of your hand? Amal Graafstra does just that as one of the first and most well-known “do-it-yourself” RFID (radio-frequency identification) implantees in the world. In this talk, Amal talks about his journey as a pioneer in RFID implementation and what you should know about biohacking.