CyberPunk Yourself – Body Modification, Augmentation, and Grinders

“We accept pain as a price of doing business, even if it is just for aesthetic purposes. You want to put a magnet in your finger, a doctor will ask you why; a mod artist will ask when you can start.” As with many other people who are part of the growing grinder movement, [Adam] has taken a step that many would consider extreme – he’s begun to augment his body.

Grinders – men and women who hack their own bodies – are pushing the boundaries of what is currently possible when it comes to human augmentation. They’re hackers at heart, pursuing on an amateur level what they can’t get from the consumer market. Human augmentation is a concept that is featured heavily in science fiction and futurism, but the assumption most people have is that those kinds of advancements will come from medical or technology companies.

Instead, we’re seeing augmentation begin in the basements of hackers and in the back rooms of piercing studios. The domain of grinders is the space where body modification and hacking meet. It mixes the same willingness to modify one’s body that is common among the tattooed and pierced, and adds an interest in hacking technology that you find in hackerspaces around the world. When those two qualities intersect, you have a potential grinder.

Rise of the Grinder Community

Biohacking is still relatively new, and has only gained traction in the past decade. It has taken a unique set of conditions for the grinder movement — which itself is a type of Biohacking — to begin. Body modification in general had to become more mainstream and accessible. Technology, especially hobby electronics, had to come far enough along that the necessary tools became available to everyone. And, perhaps most importantly, information on the subject had to be accessible.

It’s that last factor that has made the community aspect of biohacking so vital. Early lessons were learned by just a few pioneering grinders, who then shared their knowledge with other interested individuals. Collaborative design and shared techniques allowed the movement to progress, much in the same way that the RepRap project pushed forward hobby and consumer 3D printing. Even simple questions like where to implant an RFID tag could only be answered through trial and error.

One of those pioneers of biohacking is a man named [Amal Graafstra], who began his augmentation journey in 2005. As he describes in his TEDX talk (video below), his interest started simply enough – he just wanted to be able to unlock his office door without needing to carry around a key. RFID key badges were already common, and he reasoned that he could use the same implantable RFID tags that are used for pet identification to replicate a standard RFID key.

Unfortunately, those pet ID tags weren’t user-programmable. They were proprietary and an individual could only enter information like a name, phone number, and address. Obviously, that wasn’t particularly useful to [Amal], but like any good hacker, he wasn’t deterred. He was able to find an industrial glass-encased RFID tag that had the same dimensions as an RFID pet ID, and more importantly was completely programmable. Using the same implantation device used for pet IDs, he was able to have a doctor implant the industrial RFID tag in his hand, and successfully gained himself a door key that couldn’t be lost.

Photo courtesy of Dangerous Things
Photo courtesy of Dangerous Things

Early experimentation by [Amal] and several others created the inspiration necessary to launch the grinder community. Once others realized that this kind of augmentation was both possible and relatively safe, it didn’t take long for early-adopters to start implanting their own devices. Unfortunately, it was unlikely that your general practitioner would be willing to perform the procedure. This is understandable as a doctor may be liable for complications, but at the same time it’s disappointing since they’re the experts when it comes to working safely with the human body. Luckily for grinders, there was already a community of people for whom amateur surgery is the norm: body modification enthusiasts.

Getting an Implant

Tattoos and piercings can, and probably should, be considered medical procedures in their own right. But, in certain corners of the body modification world, tattoos and piercings are just the beginning. Extreme body modification, everything ranging from scarification to amputation, has grown rapidly in popularity (or at least attention) as the internet has allowed interested individuals to collaborate. One such modification called subdermal implantation was already being regularly performed, and was exactly what biohackers needed.

[Ken] picking up small screws with his magnetic implant
A subdermal implant is any object which is inserted beneath the skin. In the body modification community, these are commonly used for aesthetics – to add “horns” under the scalp for example, for sexual purposes, or for some other purpose that is left up to the individual. These implants have to be made of a biosafe material, something that won’t be rejected by the body or cause health problems. Silicone is the most commonly used material, but biosafe glass is also acceptable.

This isn’t the kind of procedure that just any piercing studio is willing or qualified to perform. But grinders looking to implant magnets or RFID tags were able to look to existing body modification artists for help. These artists are generally very open minded when it comes to alternative lifestyles and choices and at this point, most majors cities have artists who are knowledgeable and capable.

Philosophy, Ethics, and Neo-Luddites

The concept of augmenting the human body is at least somewhat intriguing to the average geek. Most of us have already been exposed to the idea through science fiction (the Cyberpunk reference in the title) and are generally in favor of new and exciting technology. That doesn’t mean every geek is champing at the bit to become a cyborg, but can understand why others would.

Outside of the hacker and body mod communities, however, the idea of human augmentation isn’t quite so accepted. That’s doubly true for amateur biohacking, which many proponents of augmentation won’t condone. The most blunt argument against biohacking is simply that it’s “unnatural.” For most people, especially those who benefit from medical advancements like pacemakers and cochlear implants, adding RFID or magnets to the body appears to have little value. But there are very few people who can’t recognize the benefits of technological progress and how it has helped humanity. Grinding, however is often not recognized as an advancement.

A more reasoned argument against human augmentation mirrors the same worries that commonly surround genetic engineering. A thought provoking possibility is that those who have access to (and can afford) augmentation procedures and devices will gain unfair advantages over those who do not. Over generations, this could create a large rift between the augmented and the unaugmented. This is also where the concept of transhumanism and a divergent “race” of humanity starts to sound like a real possibility.

Noticing any similarities?
Noticing any similarities?

Luckily, the grinder movement provides a solution to this problem as part of its central ethos: open source hardware and the free access of information. As a necessity of its success, the grinder community has to share information. With no corporate help, the only way grinders can accomplish their goals is by learning from other grinders. The result is that hardware designs and biohacking techniques are shared freely within the community.

In an ideal future, the open source nature of the grinder movement would mean that anyone with the interest could augment themselves. Even now, common implants cost less than most cell phones. It’s likely that with growing adoption costs will decrease and capabilities will increase, a familiar pattern of most technology.

The Current State of Biohacking

Like any other technology in its infancy, biohacking devices are still crude. There are really only two commonly performed biohacks today: magnetic implants which are by far the most popular and least expensive, and RFID implants. But, enthusiastic development is yielding some interesting possibilities.

I spoke with a man named [Ken] who has a magnetic implant, along with a handful of other “non-functional” body modifications. [Ken] lives with his girlfriend in Wellington, New Zealand, works in retail, and as a hobby he makes wooden boxes and other trinkets for some pocket change. He’s intelligent, curious, and not afraid to get his hands dirty. His approach to getting a magnetic implant was rather nonchalant:

“I chose to get a magnet implant for a reason similar to why I split my tongue; I wanted to experience something I couldn’t have experienced otherwise. With my tongue split, I can move and feel two muscles where there only used to be one (well, there are two muscles but they only ever moved together before the split). With a magnet, I can feel something pulling from inside me. Being able to hold tiny screws and coins and things is just a handy bonus.”

What does having a magnet implanted in your finger actual feel like? [Ken] described it as “as much as I love picking up small coins, screws, pins and bottlecaps with my finger, it’s nowhere near as satisfying as the actual pull that I can feel from it. My favourite times to feel it are when I’m not expecting it, like being an ATM and feeling it whirr while it works out what change to spit at me, or feeling the mechanism of a train door vibrate just before they open.“

[Adam’s] description is more about what it allows him to do:

“It allows me to feel magnetic and electrical fields. Plus, you know, pick up small objects and other magnets. In a practical sense, I can feel which wires in a fuse box are active, whether certain devices (like microwaves, for instance) are properly sealed, and that kind of thing.”

Adam is a 29 year old living in Sydney, Australia with his girlfriend, and has been working as a piercer for more than 7 years. He’s a self-described “massive, massive nerd,” and is the type of guy who is an early adopter of tech toys. Those two parts of his nature are what got him interested in becoming a grinder. He already had a purely aesthetic subdermal implant, so biohacking wasn’t a big leap for him. In addition to his magnetic implant, he also has an RFID implant – specifically an NFC implant.

Photo courtesy of Dangerous Things
Photo courtesy of Dangerous Things

“The NFC chip is encased in a 2x12mm glass cylinder, and is in the back of my left thumb. In theory, it would allow me to do anything an NFC card would do: keyless entry, computer interfacing, storage of business cards or other data, links to websites, Bluetooth or WiFi configuration data, almost anything. While I could do any of those things, I don’t actually have a practical use for it yet; when I scan it, it reads out the decoded clone barcode from Orphan Black.”

What can the average person do if they want to biohack themselves like [Ken] and [Adam] have? Doing so responsibly and safely is important, and very few doctors will condone these procedures or perform them. One company called Dangerous Things, created by [Amaal Graafstra], is attempting to supply the necessary tools, as well as the information to use them safely.

Dangerous Things sells a variety of implants – both magnetic and RFID. Their RFID implants come in a selection of different protocols to ensure that they’ll work properly with whatever projects you have planned. They also sell the implantation tools, and provide instructions on how to use them. These can then be taken to a body modification artist who is experienced with subdermal implants, and in no time at all you can become a grinder yourself.

The Future of Biohacking

Maybe RFID implants aren’t exciting enough for you, and you want to push yourself further? One group out of Pennsylvania called Grindhouse Wetware, born out of the biohack.me forums, is currently developing three new and complex implants. The simplest of these, called North Star, is a circuit board containing LEDs that can be lit up and seen through your skin, and is purely aesthetic.

Circadia Implant as seen in Motherboard Interview
Circadia Implant as seen in Motherboard Interview

It’s what they’re doing beyond the aesthetic that is really interesting. Circadia is another implantable device that constantly gathers the user’s biometric data. The medical potential for this device is vast, and it has the most immediately practical benefits.

However, another project of theirs is interesting in that it aims to give humans an additional “sense.” Bottlenose takes in data from sensors and WiFi, and communicates that data to the user by inducing a magnetic field that can be sensed with a magnetic implant, or by haptic vibrations. One possible application, and the reason for the name, is to provide the ability to navigate a physical space using sonar.

Robotic augmentation is another distant, but probably inevitable, possibility. Kevin Warwick, a scientist in the UK, proved through his “Project Cyborg” that a robotic arm could be controlled directly by the human nervous system. We’ve even featured less invasive projects here on Hackaday.

Whatever your personal thoughts are on human augmentation, it’s undeniable that the technology already exists to make it a reality. Grinders are already doing it. The only questions are what they’ll come up with next, and whether you’re going to join them.

112 thoughts on “CyberPunk Yourself – Body Modification, Augmentation, and Grinders

  1. in the game shadowrun, the creators had a little attribute called “essence” now what did they mean by essence, well first off, ill tell you what happens to you with a low essence, you go crazy, become hateful, and suicidal. now how do you get a low score of essence? implanted body armour, cyborg limbs, but the worst thing of all, that sends them all insane, and at the doors of hell??? the neural interface.

    1. A movie I saw several years ago, it might have been “Lifepod” the Techie had various tools implanted in his arms,
      one or both hands were replaced. He complained that was the only way for someone born in his circumstances could get any advancement in life…

      1. I’m curious what his comments were. I’ve played Shadowrun and read Neuromancer. While they have a close aesthetic match, there’s no literal magic in Neuromancer and it is a huge part of Shadowrun.
        Shadowrun uses the cyberpunk lore more intensely than a lot of other worlds, but it’s still cyberpunk. You could easily claim any other world of the genre ripped off Neuromancer since it’s one of the founding pillars of it.

        1. Gibson: “To the extent that there was a Cyberpunk movement-and there wasn’t, really, but to the extent that there was, the five or six people who I knew in 1981 who were doing this stuff and had a radical aesthetic agenda, at least in terms of that pop-art form of science fiction, [and] one of the things that we were really conscious of was appropriation. Appropriation as a post-modern aesthetic and entrepreneurial strategy. So we were doing it too. We were happily and gloriously lifting all sorts of flavours and colours from all over popular culture and putting it together to our own ends. So when I see things like ShadowRun, the only negative thing I feel about it is that initial extreme revulsion at seeing my literary DNA mixed with elves. Somewhere somebody’s sitting and saying ‘I’ve got it! We’re gonna do William Gibson and Tolkien!’ Over my dead body! But I don’t have to bear any aesthetic responsibility for it. I’ve never earned a nickel, but I wouldn’t sue them. It’s a fair cop. I’m sure there are people who could sue me, if they were so inclined, for messing with their stuff. So it’s just kind of amusing.”

    2. Except you’re leaving out how Essence is at its core just a game mechanic introduced for two explicitly stated reasons:

      1. There had to be a trade-off between technology and magic. Magic in Shadowrun is incredibly powerful, to the point that the #1 rule for combat is “Geek the mage first,” but low Essence is an inhibitor to your magic. This way, normies have a fighting chance – you can either have an augmented-to-the-gills Street Samurai or an unaugmented mage, and each has their own pros and cons. For instance, in a recent game I played, my team managed to kill an incredibly powerful mage without risk – we shot him from a kilometer away, well outside of his range of detection, a feat only made possible by our having numerous vision and combat enhancements.

      2. Shadowrun is a cyberpunk DYSTOPIA. If augmentations had no negative side effects, then it wouldn’t be all that grim. But no – in a society where you need technology to be effective in society, be it as a corporate wageslave or a shadowrunner, you have to essentially kill a part of your soul. And, of course, the common man can only afford street-grade cyberware, which has a larger essence cost, whereas the rich can afford delta-grade cyber which barely costs anything.

    3. I tried shadowrun once, hated that about their essence as it’s completely unrealistic, thankfully magic helps to explain they nonsense away. Why would an artificial arm make you less human? Now mental argumentation makes sense, but my arm would make me less human?

  2. I have 2 magnetic implants, one in my ring finger that is pretty small, and one larger one on the back of my left hand. Screws, small allen wrenches, screwdriver bits, you name it. It’s a super handy tool to have. I’ll be getting more asap especially when they release the 3x6mm cylinder on dangerous things.

    It hurts, it’s weird, and it’s kinda scary, but as someone who would qualify as a maker, it isn’t always useful, but sometimes it’s really freakin convenient. Also the sensations that you can have with them are absolutely indescribable. You can feel the difference between AC and DC, i can feel samarium cobalt vs neodymium, and i can tell which bullets are steel cored.

    pretty good article, i wish Hackaday type people would get more involved! I’m struggling to make new stuff!

        1. worked in a machine shop quite a bit (i’m a 3D Designer with an in house machine shop) we mostly work with aluminum, but any time I’m around steel i’m fairly cautious to using my left hand to pick stuff up. I always check my hands afterwards, and usually wash my hands after. Haven’t had a problem in almost a year and a half.

    1. Those sensations are the EXACT reason I would get the smaller M31 implant. Picking up metal bits would just be a parlor trick side effect, but the extra-sensory style feedback would be worth it in itself to me.

      1. they aren’t as strong as you would hope for unfortunately. my finger one is .7x3mm coated in Parylene or whatever. Magnetic fields are very easy to feel and EM stuff is nice depending on the strength, i can feel a microwave magnetron from about an inch away with my finger, wish I had put the bigger one in there!

  3. Looked at a modified pet tag for rfid as would be a cool way to authenticate to whatever I could dream up, but kind of put off by reports of long term cancer risk around introducing the implant into the body. eg :-
    http://www.dailytech.com/RFID+Chips+Linked+to+FastGrowing+Cancer/article8796.htm

    For now, I have rfid tag sewn into my gloves, and a reader on my motorcycle hidden away where it won’t be casually brushed during use to activate its ignition system. Its pretty hard to forget your gloves if you never ride without (like me). My car is so lacking in electronics you can start it with a screwdriver anyway.

    1. I’m guessing those reports are bunk. Neither glass nor radio waves have every been linked to cancer, so the probability that the combination causes it is unlikely.

      I wouldn’t put one in my hand however, as I occasionaly work with them, the most serious risk is shattering the glass capsule due to an impact injury. (Imagine the pain of hitting your finger with a hammer and releasing shards of glass and metal. Ouch)

      1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=9314053&dopt=Citation
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=2267501&dopt=Citation
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=10528631&dopt=Citation

        I wouldn’t call the studies “bunk”. What it seems to be is that the scaring and inflammation caused by the implants, which happens to different degrees in different people and for differing amounts of time (but always some small amount of scarring and inflammation), provides a perfect growth site for cancerous cells.

        Now, decide how much of a threat that is to you. For some people, it isn’t: no history of cancer, no family history, no risk factors. For other people, who smoke or had a previous tumor, have family history or other major risk factors, it might not be a good idea. Undifferentiated malignant cells are not fun; and if you are a person who scars easily and gets keloids from simple ear piercings, that might not be a good body hack.

        1. Don’t believe this stuff at all but it’s strangely coincidental that 1700 years ago someone made this line up.

          So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. Revelation 16:2

          1. Well that explains why my nose piercings go all manky looking in a few days with anything but pure gold in them. There was me thinking it was inherited because my mom had the same reaction with her earrings but all along it was because she was in league with the devil.

          2. It’s entirely bleedin’ coincidental. You write enough pages, every now and then there’ll be a tenuous link that people of that time can interpret as being vaguely related, even though the author had absolutely no idea of the technology of the future, and was unarguably bonkers.

            There’s hundreds of examples of Nostradamus “predicting” the future, and he was a bullshitter who couldn’t rhyme.

  4. I’m tired of seeing breathless coverage of “grinders.” Yes, transhumanism is exciting. Yes, I’m fine with body modding and, indeed, have several mods of my own. But what a lot of fuss to make over a few injectable RFID tags and magnets..! It doesn’t deserve such a grandiose term, nor does the “movement” deserve much in the way of attention (yet). It may become cool and edgy at some point, but for now, it’s hipster wannabe cyberpunk bluster.

    1. The magnets and (especially) RFID implants aren’t terribly interesting, sure. But, the grinder culture is. Grinders are pushing non-medical implant tech forward just because they’re willing to cut themselves open and put in more or less pointless things. (Compare this to the rate of change in the medical implant industry: prototype vision implants have been around in labs since the early 80s, and the first commercial unit was approved for a particular type of vision problem ~3 years ago, and they still aren’t selling them.)

      1. As far as sticking things under your skin, I think medical science already has that covered. There’s been *useful* implants for decades now. Pacemakers have been around for however long. A bit of glorified piercing isn’t really advancing the state of the art.

    2. Because people don’t like nazis for some reason, medical advancement has to be done by willing volunteers, and to avoid lawsuits most doctors will avoid doing things not sanctioned by their community. I hope there are grinders that are in contact with medically trained professionals.But if we don’t have a group of people forcing tests on other humans, then it has to be self driven. The Lab can only do so much before it needs trials.

  5. Shadowrun’s only marginally less off topic than a discussion about the kit in GURPS Cyberpunk, and with less real life office raids. And if the essence mechanic was based on real life every amputee would be on watch list.

    In almost two decades of books, Shadowrun has produced absolutely nothing noteworthy for a grinder to take note of. That’s being brutally honest.

      1. It’s set in a dystopian future where people woke up to discover that they had suddenly become elves. I don’t think that the source material has any particular interest in realism.

  6. What a pile of b**ll sh*t! Be a cyberpunk and tag yourself HA HA – does dear author realise what does the word PUNK mean? Let me give you a hint – does it mean to obey the rules or maybe not to obey them? Well, guess what does it mean to tag yourself with RFID chip – obey and become lovely sheep ready to be skinned. Good luck with that :-)

  7. i kinda like the idea of a small magnet inside my hand, is there any way to have a try at this? (like glueing one to a fingernail?)
    also, i thing it would be a pain in the ass try to get that in Argentina

    1. Well now that you said that… I wanna super glue a magnet onto my finger…
      I know MRIs don’t allow you to have piercings in, I can only imagine what they’d do to you with magnets and chips inside of you… Hope they don’t mind getting it re-installed after the scan.

        1. I got some neodym magnets about that size off amazon, they come in quantities larger than ‘1’ though, so… Cementing one to each fingernail sounds interesting. Avoids retarding tactile sense, as well as attracting metal shavings to a surface that doesn’t get painful micro cuts easily. I think I’ll look into that after I try the one super glued to my finger tip as depicted in your link (assuming i enjoy it).

          1. Remember that your fingernails grow from the cuticle outward. Wouldn’t be surprised if after a year you have to dissolve the glue and remount it. Maybe some sort of finger tip clasp would work better. Something to hold it tight to the skin but soft enough interface between the magnet and clasp to allow a little movement.

          2. I think mounting to the nails is good. Since they’re growing from the cuticle, and attached to the flesh underneath, they’d be pretty sensitive. Even if you have to remount them every so often, not like superglue and magnets are expensive.

      1. The quality would be amazing. I’m wearing a pair of bone conduction head phones right now. Have had them for a few months and love them. It’s hard to believe these are only second generation, that the third generation are just now hitting market. I don’t see all that much room for improvement aside from the mic.

        You really have to hear it to believe it. There’s just no way to describe it adequately. You have to unlearn prioritizing sounds by volume, something I didn’t even notice I did until I began to wear these things regularly.

        However I don’t think I want them implanted. The same parts that make bone conduction possible also means it will work on other materials. Plastic fuse boxes and reservoirs under the hoods of cars make incredible speakers with this headset pressed up against them. Everything can be a speaker with those, what I want isn’t to implant them but to come up with a better mounting system that can secure itself to just about any surface while still being able to act as a headset.

      2. The US military have been working on that, little strips of metal covered in something or other, that uses glucose and oxygen to generate a small current. I think on the order of microamps at the moment, for tiny strips. The idea is for implanting soldiers with health monitors etc, and maybe radio.

        I think it’s bloody stupid, last thing a soldier needs is bits of metal in their body, they spend most their active life avoiding that. So far they’ve managed well enough with batteries.

    1. Wouldn’t you just need short lengths of threaded rod screwed into your skull and protruding through the skin? Then you could just screw headphones onto the outside. Makes upgrading easy. Unless you wanted lumps under your skin with the whole headphone in there?

      1. An intra-dental interface device (bite-plate, retainer, inductor mount blended with orthodontic braces, or tooth-cap interface mounting “a grille” ) would make more sense, as both would be more or less non-invasive. A more permanent solution would be integrating the output inductor into bridgework. But that’s just me being practical..

  8. Does Cartman’s anal probe qualify for this? We could use it for SDR.

    Another silly fad for people who needs to spend more time working in a farm or in construction or whatever.

    1. You’re putting a magnet in a very carefully tuned radio that makes atoms in your body resonate. at best he MRI technician/software can’t read the output because your implant screws with the signal.
      Varying degrees of discomfort/pain on your part may be felt, due to torque and RF heating, depending on size and strength of magnetic implants. Strong magnets may be forcefully removed from your body. 1.5-3T does some impressive things to magnetic objects.

  9. Nice to see an occasional article on biohacking. Thought people forgot about it. Although, “grinders”? Really?
    Does this need such a ridiculous subculture name?

    Love the concept of body mods, and especially augmentation. Except I have not found anything I’d like to do yet, other than a hand full of magnets in the fingertips.
    I like the idea of feeling magnetic fields, and new sensory perception period. However, being both a watchmaker and a machinist- it’s not gonna happen.
    I’d always magnetize any watch I touch, and never avoid it, and I’d have metal swarf constantly on my fingers.

    When extra robotic limb add ons are available, I’d have control sockets implanted in me ala Ghost In The Shell to control them, happily- I could work on watches till I die,
    sans problems from arthritis affecting me. Hell, I’d do it right now if I could.

    Practically speaking- some sort of thermal overlay on my sunglasses, while not a direct body mod, I’d find useful.

    1. The term “grinder” was adopted by the grinding community itself. The origin is a short comic book series called “Doktor Sleepless”. The quote, specifically, is “Be authentic to your dreams. Be authentic to your own idea about yourself. Grind away at your own minds and bodies until you become your own invention. Be mad scientists.”

      We grind because we aren’t satisfied with waiting for tomorrow, waiting for the future to come. Some things we can have today, if we have the will to make it so. I’ve got four magnet implants (m31s… 3mm x 1mm N52 NdFeB discs jacketed in titanium nitride) and four RFIDs (one ISO14443A NTAG216, one EM4102, and two ISO11784/11785 chips with onboard temperature sensors). All proudly self-implanted. I’ve got to tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve opened yourself up with a scalpel and added some hardware to give yourself a new sense, then stitched yourself up. The sense of accomplishment is very intense.

      The ability to feel electromagnetic fields really is, at least to me, amazing. There are occasional “incompatibilities” with some devices (my left hand plays havoc with the internal compasses of things like smartphones and tablets), but for a new sense, I can deal with that. I absolutely can see where they’d be a problem if I were working with tiny metallic objects that could accidentally become magnetized when handling them, though.

      1. I have opened up myself with a knife and stitched it back together. Only it was an accident and I also had to stop the bleeding.

        I am curious about the RFID chips and their application, especially the temperature sensors, where are they and what do you do with them?

        1. There has been debate about where to put the temperature sensors. The most common place to put RFID tags in the past was the hands but your hands do not give an accurate idea of your core body temperature. Someone has experimented with a temperature implant near the armpit.
          RFID is generally used to identify yourself to a computer. I use an NFC tag to unlock my phone and an RFID tag to unlock my car. It still needs a key to start though.

  10. Here’s an idea for someone more brave/stupid than me… implant one or more assemblies comprising a white (=highest efficiency) LED and a small coil – should be doable in the same size as a pet RFID tag.
    Use an external coil to provide power (bracelet, necklace, hat, spectacles etc.). Way cooler than “horns” & other static lumpy bits.
    For multiples., have each one resonate at a different frequency so you could selectively light them by varying the frequency of the power field.

  11. I have an nxp chip implanted in my hand. What do I actually use it for? Mostly opening the secure doors/printing from the secure printers at work, opening my house front door, and it stores my business card so I can transfer all my contact details including web site, address, phones, email, company etc. to someone by swiping their phone over my hand. I got featured in the news a couple of times etc.

    What else have I been doing with it? Well it was primarily a learning piece for nfc. Realistically I could have learnt what I know now without implanting it, but that’s no fun. Plus, I discovered that under a metal detector, the antenna takes the energy from the metal detector and spends it trying to power the chip. So rather than going beep, it does the exact opposite and creates an electromagnetic black hole or blind spot. This was unexpected, but logical. I’m currently developing something new and more functional based on my experiences with this and some more new skillsets.

    1. They were the early liquid silicone ones, in a bag. The bag leaked and I think the silicone ended up clogging up women’s lymph glands, and setting hard. No idea who “Dody” was but it happened to a few women. I think it was even life-threatening for some.

      Modern tit implants are solid silicone all the way through. Well, flexible, but solid. The silicone used by body piercers is the same type. It’s fine. Doesn’t react with flesh.

    1. definitively contraindication for MRI scan… are those people aware, what they are playing with? Remembering investigating my 12 years old medical files (paper one) in hospital archive, to get type of screws, I have in my knee.

  12. This reminds me of breathless press coverage of Professor Kevin Warwick, shove a magnet or an RFID dog tag under your skin and run round telling everyone you’re a cyborg as if you’re suddenly T1000. You’re not a cyborg, you’re a tit.

      1. Nope. There was a great website, NTK, that had a “Kevin Warwick Watch”. He was a professor from a very middling University, who did completely mundane things and ran round phoning the newspapers telling them he was a half-human cyborg of future days. They followed his nonsense and believed everything he said, for a few years he was the UK’s go-to guy for comments on technology stories in papers and on TV.

        His piece de resistance was the old cat-tag in the arm trick, rigged to open doors. This was sold to the ignorant British public as some kind of wonder. The fact you could set up the same thing for any cat in the country didn’t pop up.

        He was an annoying self-aggrandising nerd, who explained mundane things in a very slow and patronising way for the people at home. He actually claimed to be a cyborg. And he never failed to end one of his yawnstravaganza stories with some utterly unfounded extrapolation, about how in the future robots will take over the Earth or something equally ludicrous. He was an arse of the first order.

  13. The problem with technological implants is the same as the problem with robots. They break down faster than you do, because they’re not living things. They don’t self-repair and self-improve.

    A robot/android, or a real cyberpunk with artifical limbs etc. is a very fragile being. If you get punched in the shoulder, you get a wooden arm for a few minutes and a bruise that heals over the next 24 hours. A robot arm? Punch it hard enough to damage it, and you have to replace it. Wear it down and you have to replace it. Get an infection… replace it…

    One thing that doesn’t sit well with human physiology is repeated surgery to replace the broken down and obsolete parts every five years. Common lifespans of implants include:

    Knee replacement: 10-20 years
    Hip replacement: 15 years
    Shoulder implant: 15 to life
    Wrist joint: 5-15 years
    Elbow joint: <5 years

    Etc.

    Basically, the cyberpunk would be in and out of hospitals like kids to summer camp.

    1. ^ THIS

      Several years ago MAKE magazine published an article written by someone with magnetic finger implants. It sounded interesting, so I visited his website and found that not long after writing the article the protective coating on them had either broken down or been damaged. They needed to be removed, and some of the surrounding area had to come out too.

    2. totally bogus and selective argument. engineered mechanisms (machines) are infinitely superior to our evolved biology.

      You forgot to mention you need to punch the robot arm with 300x the force to damage it. Also a robot can get a new arm. Your broken arm will never be the same. And you will age and die, mostly due to the accumulated irreparable damage on a cellular level. How much has the endurance of the human body improved in the last 300 years? Because you know, from the primitive precursors to Watt’s steam engine, we have increased the endurance about 10^7 to 10^9 times. and power output and power density and efficiency and durability and ease of manufacture and consistency of manufacture at all scales…. oh, but early knee and hip replacements sucked.

      .

      1. Yeah but we’re made from billions of self-reproducing units, general and specialised. Being able to eat food and convert it into self is pretty awesome, as well as thoughts and movement. We repair even if we don’t know we’re broken. Mostly. Some help might be needed for bigger things. And new humans are utterly easy to make, you can’t keep us from doing it! We need nothing but food and a pair of existing humans. We even convert food into brand new people.

        If something goes wrong with a machine, even a small thing, it’s buggered and can’t do it’s job. You can design in tolerance, or backup systems, but it all gets complicated and inefficient. We can take a lot of knocks. There’s a guy on TV earlier, Thalidomide birth, who plays piano with his feet and drove a bulldozer, with his feet, for a living for 24 years. Get a robot to do THAT!

        If I had to choose between a robot and a man to send for some task, all things being equal, I’d send a man. We’re adaptable to almost anything. Machines are very much stuck to what they’re designed for. You have to plan them BEFORE you start the task. And they wear out. So do we, but that’s being worked on. Versatility and intelligence is our advantage in the game of evolution, and you have to admit we’ve wiped the floor with the competition.

  14. Gibson can suck OOKLAHs DICK! http://i.ytimg.com/vi/QpxfWZnkiNg/hqdefault.jpg
    His little book came out in 1984
    I was watching Thundarr The Barbarian in 1980.
    Far closer to a shadowrun world than his was.
    Seems almost like “initial extreme revulsion at seeing my literary DNA mixed with elves.” Could have read ““initial extreme revulsion at seeing all my work stripping away mystical influences undone”
    Im not saying he plagarized a childs cartoon. I just dont think his work deserves the misplaced respect it is given. “cyberpunk” existed, exists, and would have with our without his work.

  15. Is the Circadia “implant” that gigantic thing? I don’t see the point. You could just wear it strapped to you. What’s the advantage to putting it under skin? Apart from you can’t lose it.

    The magnetic sense I suppose is novel. Perhaps would be interesting to get tiny magnets implanted in my fingers. I’ve already got some metal in me post-surgery.

    But as far as information technology goes, in this scary future that seems to be looming, with facial-recognition and cameras everywhere, I think the time might come when anonymity is valuable. Being scannable with no control over it, I see as a disadvantage. I keep a spare set of doorkeys with a family member, so I’m fine for sticking pet tags into my body, thanks.

    If there were actual superpowers, interfaces to sound and vision, or sophisticated controls, maybe I’d see the advantage. But it’s have to be bloody good, to prefer it to something I can remove when I want.

    Equally I don’t have tattoos for a similar reason. No identifying marks. That, and I’ve never thought of anything I wanted to see or say badly enough to permanently ink it into my body. If anyone asks, I’ll just tell them I love my mum, or some ex from years ago, or whatever. If I supported a football team, I’d just buy a scarf.

  16. I wish some medical professionals would chime in here. Infections, rejections, amputations, no MRI’s when your life may hang in the balance, etc.

    People will do anything to be “cool” include being stupid and risking life and limb just to have some other idiot say “that’s so cool, man”. The claims of wanting to be “different” or “original” or “not a sheep” make me laugh the most when you look around and fucking everyone has the same shitty ass tattoo or piercing that you do. Your uniform just happens to include tattoo “sleeves” and stupid looking fucking “horns”

    I think maturity is lacking in a lot of people and in the new culture of everyone gets a ribbon or trophy and a pat on the head it’s giving idiots free passes to be fucking stupid. Not to mention the half assed way most of these body mod morons go about things and then wonder why they have to have their arm amputated.

    Your body evolved the way it did over hundreds of thousands of years for a fucking reason, but you want to hurry it along so you can look cool in a single lifetime because you are a fucking cunt that needs recognition from other fucking cunts. You are lemmings, please do the sane a favor and go find a cliff.

    Not to mention that all these implants are made of technology which tends to CHANGE several times throughout your life, so you can either be chock full of obsolete parts, that have be encapsulated in scar tissue and make you look like a lumpy piece of shit, or you can maybe have them cut out and run the risk of all the nasty and very real complications of real surgery so you can upgrade, you know, so you’re still fucking cool.

    Even real life medical devices have these kinds of problems seeing how batteries and parts fail over time. And these things have years of studies behind them to make sure they are safe, and yet still over the human lifetime they might find that your grandmas hip implant or granddads pacemaker or your moms tits are toxic as fuck because they only did a 5 year study in situ.

    I see a Darwin award waiting in your future, and its not because you are “evolving”….

  17. Magnets and RFID seem trivial, but one must start somewhere. I want to scream and yell every time I see the supposed shunning of the medical profession. I’m a physician and a geek. I’m enamored with the concept of transhumanism. Better, faster, stronger, maybe a little stranger–through any means necessary. I grew up with games like Deus Ex, and movies like RoboCop. The thought of building something more than human, better than human–it’s orgasmic to me. I want to be a part of it–to cut and sew and make something wholly new–grotesque, fearsome, powerful, beautiful. Magnets are just a start. Google the Ocumetrics lens. Call it what you like, it’s coming. I’m only one, but there are more like me, waiting to build the future with a scalpel, a suture, and a soldering iron.
    -Anonymous surgeon.

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