Friday Hack Chat: Becoming Cyborg

What is it like to be a cyborg? What does it mean to have augmented hearing, improved vision, and coprocessors for your brain that enhance your memory? We could ask people with hearing aids, glasses, and a smartphone strapped to their wrist, but that’s boring. We’re looking to the future and the cool type of cyborgation, and that’s what this week’s Hack Chat is all about.

Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat will be Lindy Wilkins, and they’re here to discuss what it takes to be a cyborg. Right now, they’re sporting a magnetic implant, an NFC implant and will soon have a North Sense, an exo-sensory device that tells your brain where North is.

Lindy is currently based in Toronto as a PhD student at the University of Toronto, and director at the Site 3 coLaboratory. They spend free time making robots, playing with lasers, and thinking about how body modification and where the intersection of bio-hacking and wearable technology will meet in the near future.

During this Hack Chat, we’re going to be talking about what it means to be a cyborg. Is it simply a matter of wearing contacts, getting a replacement hip or heart valve, or is it something even cooler? Do RFID tags count? Do insulin pumps? We’re going to be digging deep into what it means to be a cyborg, and what future technologies will enable the human body to do. You are, of course, encouraged to ask your own questions; leave those on the Hack Chat event page.


Our Hack Chats are live community events on the Hack Chat group messaging. This Hack Chat is going down Friday, January 26th at noon, Pacific time. Time Zones got you down? Here’s a handy countdown timer!

Click that speech bubble to the left, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on

You don’t have to wait until Friday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.

7 thoughts on “Friday Hack Chat: Becoming Cyborg

  1. I can understand having a magnetic implant could help you identify the North pole of something magnetic, (if the implant is so oriented that the implantee would notice which end is pulling or repelling.
    But how would that help one identify the direction North with its much smaller magnetic field?

    1. It’s nothing strong enough to let you feel a compass direction; the ‘pulling’ is mostly just when a strong switching magnetic field is nearby, or a big chunk of magnetically-permeable metal. Sure it’s sort of cool to feel the fans in your laptop spinning up before it slows down, but being able to poke-pickup small screws and parts is more useful.

      Anyways, the old neodymium discs lose their magnetism after a few years; I guess you might be able to re-magnetize them, but one important part of caring for them is not keeping them stuck to things for too long; the skin/blood vessels/whatever can get pinched and bad things happen. So personally, I wound up getting mine taken out by an enterprising local tattoo artist. They mentioned that there were newer models that were much smaller, which might make them more sensitive and less invasive, but would also have ruled out getting it removed non-professionally.

      I dunno, I think that unless you aren’t in a position to choose, ‘reversible’ is still a very important feature in modern cybernetics, which are still very ‘early adopter’-ish these days.

  2. I’m more interested in the other direction: frankly I find the world distracting enough as it is and I don’t need any more senses. My brain has its neurons full just dealing with what it has! I would like to pass information out to machines in new ways though.

    I’d love to see a portable EEG that encrypts locally and pushes data to a private cloud. No wetware installation required, and I could perhaps train myself to control a couple of scripts online that automate simple tasks. Maybe even effectively!

    If I was going to embed anything it would be a simple myogram that tracks my finger movements. That’s at least 1024 different key combinations I can map to something. Or just play air guitar *really* well.

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