Thoughts on Biohacking

Many of our most popular science fiction books, comics, graphic novels, TV shows, and movies, often portray cyborgs as humans and other fictional species, and sometimes even animals, that have been modified with various forms of mechanical and electrical components, engineering, bionic, and other body and ability-enhancing/augmenting technologies that are often, but not always, visible on the surface.

DC’s Cyborg

Sometimes these cybernetic beings use their powers and prowess to fight injustice and crime – other times they are the villain. A few noteworthy cyborg iterations from the last few decades of popular culture include the Marvel Comics and DC Comics characters; Victor Stone aka Cyborg, Steve Rogers (aka Captain America), James “Logan” Howlett (aka Wolverine)…

Wolverine’s Adamantium “Claws”
Art by Ron Garney

…then there is Peter Parker aka Spiderman who, while not technologically a cyborg, after the bite of a radioactive spider he genetically and physically mutated to possess spider-like powers. He later implemented several hacks to his clothing including his “web slingers” that came together with his mutations to give him his suite of “Spidey” superpowers.

…we have Spiderman’s nemesis Dr. Otto Octavious aka Dr. Octopus

Marvel’s Dr. Octopus

…and Norman Osborne aka The Green Goblin.

Source: Internet.

Some may argue that Dr. Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk), while not technically a cybernetically enhanced being, was in fact accidentally “bio-hacked” due to his exposure to Gamma Rays while saving an innocent man.

…then there are the Cybermen from Dr. Who

…the Cylon humanoids aka: “Skin Jobs” from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica

Tricia Helfer(Caprica/#6), Lucy Lawless (D’Anna), and Grace Park (Boomer) – all “Skinjob” Cylons from Battlestar Galactica TV series.

…and The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman

Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman and Lee Majors as The Six Million Dollar Man

Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell.

Scarlett Johansson as The Major from the live action 2017 Ghost in the Shell

The Star Wars saga portrays multiple cyberneticly enhanced species with unique implants and powers such as Darth Vader , General Grievous , Luke Skywalker and many more.

Darth Vader

…The Terminator in its many forms…

Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator.

My personal favorite marvelously and malevolently malignant cyborg creation would have to be the Borg from Star Trek The Next Generation.

A Borg drone assimilates an unlucky crewman (why isn’t the crewman wearing a red shirt?)

While many fictional cyborg creations are helpful and fight injustice, it seems that more often than not cyborgs are depicted as frightening, destructive, emotionless, malevolent beings made up of a combination of futuristic technology fused with their existing, often previously damaged or modified biology.

Many of these cybernetic beings are often depicted as wanting to assimilate and enslave the human species into their own species or to destroy us entirely to either take our technology or our flesh for selfish and/or nefarious purposes. From my point of view, I believe all this negativity toward cybernetically enhanced beings is just unfair. In reality, most people with currently available cybernetic enhancements are often indistinguishable from other members of society. Some want their enhancements noticed often going to great lengths to do so, and many may be may bordering on transhuman – modified to the point where they are noticeably different from other “natural” humans such as Neil Harbisson… even to the point of being considered a posthuman…but, there is no reason to believe or suggest they would be malevolent.

It is far more likely they would be someone just like you.

Neil Harbisson Cyborg

What cyborgs from popular culture and from reality all have in common is this: their biological in origin bodies are in some way interfacing with non-biological technology, engineering, and chemistry – their flesh and blood body has non-biological components such as hardware, machine, and electronic parts either replacing lost or damaged original parts, or they have intentionally added ability-enhancing appearance-augmenting parts and chemicals they were not born with or naturally produce.

In other words – they have been bio-hacked.

But what does this really mean?

First some definitions

BIO:

From Biology: the science of life or living matter in all its forms and phenomena, especially with reference to origin, growth, reproduction, structure, and behavior. Source: Dictionary.com – a more indepth dive into Biology can be found on Wikipedia.

HACK:

1: a usually creatively improvised solution to a computer hardware or programming problem or limitation

2: an act or instance of gaining or attempting to gain illegal access to a computer or computer system

3: a clever tip or technique for doing or improving something

Source: Merriam-Webster’s.

For our purposes, definitions one and three are the best fits for the “hack” in Biohacking.

“Biohacking” is defined by Merriam-Webster as: biological experimentation (as by gene editing or the use of drugs or implants) done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms especially by individuals and groups working outside a traditional medical or scientific research environment.

or, as Techopedia puts it: “Biohacking can include body modifications, in which groups of people known as “grinders” experiment with implants and other methods of applying technologies to their bodies, such as wearable computing. Other types of biohacking may involve self-medical hacks, such as home DNA or genetic testing.”

As one Biohacker put it: “We biohackers, we think the human body is a good start but there is certainly room for improvement.” 

This is an excellent article on Biohacking from The Verge.

The human body is an amazing creation designed and constantly refined by trial and error over millions of years of evolution by natural selection. However, due to that long term slowly adaptive process, driven by the nuances of the engine that is natural selection, it carries with it many flaws and fails that evolution could have crafted a wee bit better – if given more time. Here are a few of them…

If given more time and technology, maybe we naked, multi-colored, bipedal, thinking apes, will evolve these evolutionary fails out of our genome to become the best that we can be. But for now, those of us that are alive and kicking and reading these words – even with all our evolutionary flaws and imperfections – we are good enough. We are the ones who were fit enough to have survived the evolutionary weeding out process of deep time, and therefore, we are all privileged to live at this moment in time. We are all we have to work with, for now.

However, if we play our cards right and survive the next 10,000, one million years, or one billion years – who knows what kind of awesome we might be capable of – but until that time we have biohacking.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome, Evolve.

Coming back down to the reality of today, I am gratefully thankful for modern medical science, engineering, and chemistry that, although still early in its evolution and nowhere near perfect, is at a place where it offers us the amazing ability to use the methods and tools of science to repair, augment, enhance, and upgrade – to “biohack” – our bodies with technological and chemical repairs, enhancements, and adaptations when even the most dramatic moments in life befall us…or if we just want to voluntarily change or modify something about ourselves to better suit our needs, interests, and desires. Some more common examples of biohacking include but are not limited to:

Prosthetic limbs and other body parts … some are even 3D printed!

Next up an amazing video outlining the story of Hugh Herr and his quest to improve the human condition and delete disability.

Spinal fusion…

Surgical mesh and other organ support frameworks……fracture and other repair devices (pins, rods, screws, plates, staples, clips)…

…pacemakers,  implantable cardioverter-defibrillator devices, and prosthetic heart valves…

Prosthetic heart valves and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
Source: https://radiopaedia.org/images/22226869

…Artificial hearts…

…eventually fully autonomous total artificial hearts and other organs…

The Syncardia temporary total artificial heart. Source: https://syncardia.com/clinicians/home/

…topical TENS devices…

Source: https://foottherapy.net/tens-unit-safe/

…implantable SCS/DCS pain-relieving electrical stimulation devices…

An implanted Spinal Cord Stimulation device. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinal_cord_stimulator

insulin pumps and one day the artificial pancreas will be a reality…or maybe CRISPR or a similar technology will edit diabetes (and many other diseases, syndromes, and conditions) out of the human genome once and for all…

Source: https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/products/minimed-670g-insulin-pump-system

…nutritional supplements and medicines…

Source: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/research/domains/personalised-medicine

…cochlear and other auditory implants…

…all the various and evolving forms of hearing aid/augmentation devices from externally mounted units…

…to in the ear canal devices…

…to the many forms of plastic surgery which involve body augmentation/modification using skin manipulation and implants/injections for lips breast, buttocks, chin, and nose, and more…

“Mammogram X-ray of a silicone breast implant, used for cosmetic surgery to alter the size and shape of the female breast. The implant is the rounded white structure at centre; it has been implanted beneath the glandular tissue of the breast (sub-glandular implant). Curved bones of the rib cage can be seen at left. Synthetic silicone is widely used as implants in cosmetic surgery because they are resistant to body fluids, permeable to oxygen, and are not rejected by the body. Apart from their use to increase breast size (augmentation mammo-plasty), a silicone implant can restore breast shape after breast tissue removal for cancer.”
Source: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/279681/view

vasectomies and penile implants (to correct damage and/or ED or to augment and enhance), and full/partial joint replacements…

…dentures, dental implants and fillings in your teeth, and zygomatic implants such as the one below…

Zygomatic implants for people with severe bone loss.
Source: https://www.burbankdentalimplants.com/zygomatic-implants/

…full mandible replacements…

Source: https://www.insidemetaladditivemanufacturing.com/blog/medical-successes-using-metal-am and another one: https://www.xilloc.com/patients/stories/total-mandibular-implant/

…hair implants/transplants…

Before and after hair transplant. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_transplantation

…IUD’s, implantable contraceptives, and other implantable medications…

“IUD contraceptive. X-ray of the pelvis of a woman, showing a fitted intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD, lower centre), or coil. It comprises a T-shaped piece of plastic or metal that is inserted through the cervix into the womb to prevent pregnancy. It is thought to work by inhibiting the implantation of a fertilised egg. Some IUDs contain a progesterone drug that suppresses ovulation. IUDs are not as effective as the pill but do not have the mental and physical side-effects associated with taking hormone drugs. The pale regions at bottom left and right are the bones of the pelvis.”
Source: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/295731/view

…corrective and cosmetic contact lenses…

Source: https://www.miamicontactlens.com/our-lenses/cosmetic-lenses/prosthetic-and-soft-colored-contact-lenses/

…as well as augmented reality lenses whenever that becomes reality…

…and even cosmetics, wigs, toupees, artificial fingernails, eyelashes, piercings and plugs, rings, and tattoos…just to name a few.

Yes, even cosmetics are a form of biohacking.

Some have combined many of the more common, with what some might call rather extreme biohacks in order to completely alter and augment their appearance to fit their fantasies such as Valaria “Valeryevna” Lukyanova – the human Barbie doll.

From my point of view, I would define all of these body modification technologies, techniques, and practices as forms of “biohacking” the human-animal. But just when and when and where did this human fascination with altering the nature of things begin?

Tools Started It All

Source: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150818-chimps-living-in-the-stone-age

Our ancient ancestors who picked up the first rocks, sticks, stones, and bones and used them, like our primate cousins do today, as tools to smash nuts to get at the nutmeat, and later crunch bones to get the marrow, kill animals for food, defense from animals trying to eat them, and later – with some slight and major modifications – to fell trees, till the land, and alter the landscape to meet their growing energy needs – the great biohack of tool use started us on a path to becoming what we are today – modern humans. It took us several million years of research and development but we have succeeded in turning those sharp rocks and sticks into bulldozers and chainsaws, catapults and computers, razorblades and railroads, helicopters and Hyundai’s, Rubik’s cubes and rocket ships, laser beams and ice cream – all with the goal to make our lives better, faster, stronger, more productive with less work from our own natural biology – thereby giving our species a massive evolutionary survival advantage over all other creatures. Tool use was our species’ first major biohack.

The Hot Biohack That Made Us Human

Fire. That’s right – fire. I consider fire the ultimate biohack. Obviously, fire is not attached to the surface of, inserted or implanted into the human body…well, unless you are a “fire eater” or possibly a “fire walker“…but the discovery, control, and mastery of fire is possibly the most important tool discovery early members of our species ever made. Biological anthropologist Dr. Richard Wrangham, in his book Catching Fire, outlines how the taming of fire served to help make our food easier to acquire, more sanitary, easier process (chew) and easier to digest. Therefore, this pre-processed cooked food freed up more nutrition from the food items for our bodies and brain which then allowed our brain, and therefore our intelligence, to grow to a level surpassing that of our extinct earlier hominid ancestors and our living primate cousins the Chimpanzee, Bonobo, Gorilla, and Orangutan. The latter, and many monkey species, still use rocks and sticks as tools to this day – but none have “discovered” “tamed” and made use of fire as our species has done. Cooking also served, over time, to make our bodies more efficient by downsizing our internal organs, muscles, bones, mandible, and teeth while increasing the size of our most important internal organ – the brain – all of these things served to transform us, via the miraculous sculptor of evolution by natural selection, from another interesting animal into the complex tool using modern humans of today.

So yes, it seems we exist in our present form due in part to tool development and use, and the ultimate tool discovery, development, and mastery of fire in all its forms – from the timeless campfire crackling within a circle of rocks, to the mighty rocket ship standing on a pillar of flame as it ascends into the timeless void of space.

To me, fire was the capstone tool that allowed us to become much more than just another interesting animal among all the other animals – fire was the ultimate biohack.

But some may say that biohacks are only technologies devices and engineering implanted into the body?

From my point of view, biohacks are any and all devices, attachments, treatment procedures, chemicals, techniques, and technologies the receiver was not born with. They are added/learned/acquired after birth with the receiver’s natural biology being “hacked” with the acquired/add-on/add-in upgraded technology and/or process or procedure. Just like you might upgrade your new car with whatever aftermarket paint, add-ons, and customizations you choose to fit your needs and desires – biohacking is “aftermarket” adaptations, upgrades, personalizations, add-ons, add-ins, and customizations to your personal vehicle – your body.

Biohacks help you make your life better.

The Biohacking Spectrum

Biohacking is just like any other spectrum and to that end, I offer up to you my Biohacking Spectrum.

(I am probably leaving out something important so please correct me where needed so we can work together to make this information more robust.)

The “lower-end” of the Biohacking Spectrum.

On the lower end, we find the non-invasive, outside the body, or surface mounted adaptations and modifications such as:

Tool use and control of fire.

“I made fire! I, I made fire!” Tom Hanks from the movie Cast Away.

Clothes of all kinds are also a masterful biohack.

Michael Richards as Kramer from the TV show Seinfeld.

Would you go without your shoes/boots?

Temporary augmentative/adaptive attachments such as corrective and protective lenses (glasses, sunglasses, contacts, monocles, and other Personal Protective Equipment)…

Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future

Makeup/nail polish and other cosmetics.

Surface-mounted jewelry.

Wigs, hair, and eyelash extensions, and toupees.

Source: Lemoda.com

Augmented and/or lengthened and bejeweled synthetic fingernails.

Source: ournails.com

Climbing on up the spectrum a little bit we find externally attachable to temporarily internally insertable, but of longer duration and, depending on the application, a closer to the body attachment with a deeper connection to or penetration into the body via the skin and/or existing natural openings. These devices would include but are not limited to; contact lenses, hair implants, dental dentures and bridges, TENS devices, sexual aids, human vital monitoring and life-support devices and equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, defibrillators, and extended use yet still removable prosthetic limbs.

Source: https://www.reference.com/world-view/life-support-machine-work-1601b39db3310ae

Next is a great example of how far removable prosthetic limbs have come since the pirate and his “peg leg.”

Moving up another step we find more semi-permanent to permanent body modifications which are external but moving to internal such as Lasic surgery, insulin pumps, piercings, plugs, and tattoos.

Random internet photo.

In the middle of the scale, we find far more permanent more internally applied body modifications and alterations that change the permanent appearance and/or function of the user’s body such as but not limited to; dental braces, adjustments, and extractions, facelifts, liposuction, rhinoplasty, moving to implantable devices such as breast, buttock, lip, face, and other mostly cosmetic or augmentative body implants and injections. Within this section, we also find more active technologies such as RFID “microchips,” IUD’s, and other contraceptives, etc.

All of the biohacks within this part of the spectrum involve modifications to the skin, are located under the skin, inside the body cavity, in or near an internal organ but not necessarily attached to an organ or structural members such as connective tissue or bone.

RFID “microchips”

At the far opposite end of the biohacking scale, we find the most extreme modifications such as devices and/or technologies that are sewn, screwed, bolted, clamped, or “wired” directly into or onto the users’ organs, bones, muscles, nerves, and one day even our CPU – the brain. Examples include dental implants, ports, plates/screws, replacement joints, heart valves, pacemakers, vasectomies, penile implants, and prosthetic limbs fused directly to living bone, etc.

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3397823/Man-moves-robotic-arms-MIND-brain-controlled-prosthetic-attaches-implant-patient-s-bone.html

At the most extreme top end of the scale, we find biohacks that repair, augment, and/or alter the operation of the body’s own biology to fit the needs or desires of the body’s “owner” such as those that adapt, change, or augment physical performance, repair of congenital deformities or emergency malfunctions/loss, fight infection or disease, repair/replace faulty limbs, organs and tissues in the form of bioprinting, and sexual/gender reassignment surgery.

This extreme top-end of the spectrum also includes biochemistry-based technologies that have their own spectrum. Some examples include but are not limited to: over the counter vitamins, supplements, and drugs, prescription medications and antibiotics, allergy immunotherapy, cancer treatments, vaccines, and finally gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR.

Source: Internet

Again, I am sure I am leaving something out of this spectrum or may have misplaced something within the biohacking spectrum due to my own lack of knowledge and the rapidly changing field of biohacking. If you see something missing or out of place, or that needs adapting (hacking) please, feel free to drop me a note – but, if you do, please include the sources for your information.

The goal of any biohacking technology or technique is to repair, extend, enhance, augment, adapt, modify, and enhance this thing we call life.

Time smoothes out the rough edges

The majority of the biohacks accepted by society today are seen by many as everyday repairs, augmentations, and upgrades to the continued healthy functioning, best performance, and best or preferred appearance of our bodies. Many, if not most of these biohacks were – early on in their developmental process – experimental technologies on the bleeding edge of reality bordering on science fiction and fantasy. Many people at the time must have thought these new biohacks were pushing the interface between the human world and the technological world just a wee bit too close for comfort. Those not on the receiving end of the biohacks may have cried out things like “invasion of privacy,” “unethical,” “infringing upon my freedoms,” and possibly even “against all that is sacred,” or “unholy.”

It is interesting to note that even something as important and as widely accepted today as the biohack we now call handwashing – was once mistrusted and ridiculed by medical experts of the time.

Photo Source: http://foodsafetytrainingcertification.com/food-safety-news/proper-handwashing-and-food-safety/

Ignaz Semmelweis, the scientist and doctor who suggested handwashing may prevent disease, was ridiculed and bullied by his peers for even suggesting the “crazy idea” of handwashing. He was later committed to an asylum where he was beaten and died. His “crazy idea” was later proven correct and hand washing became widely accepted and practiced “after Louis Pasteur – who confirmed germ theory, and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist’s research, practiced and operated using hygienic methods, with great success.”

Just like the now well-known – and proven by science – handwashing and other healthy hygiene hacks that serve to remove potentially dangerous germs from our hands/bodies/teeth/surgical tools/dishes/clothes etc – the acceptance of almost any new idea, technology, procedure – any new lifehack, or biohack – takes some time. Remember how long it took seat belts to become a “thing”…or for people to accept the peer-reviewed fact that smoking causes cancer and other nasty illnesses…that brushing your teeth regularly is a good idea…that umbrellas are a good way to keep the rain off…that condoms stop the spread of STD’s and unplanned pregnancies…or that wearing cloth filter masks when you have a cold – or during a global pandemic – keeps your germs away from me and my germs away from you and in doing so they reduce sickness and even save lives. For early adopters, these things were easily acceptable life hacks, for others these things will take time.

Wear your mask – yes, it is a biohack. Photo source: internet

While still shocking to some – the technological biohacks we see today have become commonplace and almost universally accepted by modern medical science and by society, and in most “free” “western” populations they are widely accepted and are here to stay.

From my point of view, unless you have never taken any medicine, never had an operation, never been to the doctor, or you live under a rock – we modern humans have all been biohacked to some degree.

Over time, the devices, tools, and techniques of biohacking will surely evolve to become far more sophisticated to the point where they will be entirely undetectable to the user or to the observer – unless of course, they are designed to be seen by others. The future of biohacking will serve to even more blur the line between human and machine.

One day we will all be cyborgs.

To me, all that is perfectly fine – whatever technology we humans create to improve upon evolution in our quest to update our biology and make us better, faster, stronger, healthier, better looking – it is nothing unnatural, it is all just part of our own human evolution.

Backyard Biohacking

As for the DIY “biohackers” who attempt to achieve their “MacGyver” style body-hacking upgrade projects at home – I really do not see this as a good idea for the reasons of personal safety, hygiene, and limiting the spread of communicable diseases. At the moment I am writing this, I would support that any major biohack – other than simple external or specific low impact temporary internal biohacking techniques or devices – should be installed/conducted only by qualified and trained professionals.

Examples

Just like you would have only a qualified tattoo artist apply your tattoo…

Source: http://www.daweitattoo.com/

…a nail technician do your nails…

Source: Family photo.

…a dentist apply your fillings…

Source: Random internet photo.

…or a medical doctor implant your new knee joint.

Source: Random internet photo.

It is my opinion that any bodily invasive biohack that has the potential to harm the receiver’s biology and/or introduce dangerous pathogens into the receiver’s body – should only be performed by educated, qualified, specially trained, and licensed experienced professionals in the field.

However, that may change in the future with better DIY biohacking and improved sanitation technologies and techniques (in other words: new biohacks) – only time will tell.

That being said I am not in any way against biohacking for personal body repair, personalization, alteration, augmentation, or modification. Whatever you do to your body is your personal choice – it is your body and I do not have any say in your decisions nor do I want to impose any of my decisions upon you. Therefore, I will not lose any sleep over your choices. Similarly, I would not expect you to lose any sleep over my choices. However, I feel that a line should be drawn when it comes to the safety of innocent people and the survival of the species as a whole. This is why I believe there needs to be very specific health-science supported safety/hygiene biohacking standards to protect everyone from each other while still allowing everyone the personal freedom to choose to biohack.

To reiterate and clarify: If someone wants to paint, pierce, insert, inject, implant, screw, bolt, or glue on, attach, ingest, or install, – if they want to modify their own personal body in any way – if it repairs environmental/physical damage or replaces failing “parts,” and/or if it makes them better, happier, stronger, faster, and/or gives them increased pleasure or higher self-esteem – then so be it. It is their choice and their choice alone (as long as they are an adult). I have no say over what someone else does to their body just like I have no say over what another person reads, watches on TV, their choice in music, the foods they eat, the liquids they drink, the car they drive, or the people they choose to love – those things are all their choice and their choice alone as long as their biohacking choices do not have the potential to;

  1. Harm their own body such as with a dangerous addiction to drugs/chemicals.
  2. Harm friends or loved ones in their biohacking process.
  3. Harm the rest of the human and/or wildlife population with their biohacking process.
  4. Harm our shared natural life support system – nature – with their biohacking process.

Then it is their choice to biohack so I say let them hack away to their heart’s content so: bring on the biohackers.

While many biohacks are now seen as “everyday” useful cosmetic and functionality upgrades to the human anatomy and the human condition, others, in my opinion, are just a wee bit over the top….

The “Lizard man” and the “Cat man”

Or this unique pincushion of a human…ouch!

I am all for some life-hacking useful, functional, and augmentative upgrades but those are just a wee bit too high maintenance and far outside of my comfort zone…but to each his own.

My Biohacks

Yes, I have/use and benefit from a few biohacks that I could not live without and I would bet you probably have a few as well.

Dental care. The science of dentistry/dental hygiene gives me the knowledge and tools to keep my teeth clean and, when needed, apply fillings/repairs to my teeth that fix the damage that comes with age – and our species’ overly rich foods. These dental biohacks allow me to chew and process my food without pain.

Cooking. I really prefer to eat much of my food cooked. While cooking is an external action not connected directly to the body, it does pre-condition and pre-processes our foods in key ways that change the nature of those foods with these changes having a direct and positive impact upon our biology- in other words: cooking is a biohack. The ancient biohack of cooking gave my ancestors the energy they needed to live and pass their genes onward throughout time which eventually lead up to me typing these words on this tool of knowledge (and sometimes total inferno of a dumpster fire) we call the internet. Cooking has also served to protect my ancestors and me from nasty germs and parasites and it has made many of my foods easier to chew, digest, and even better tasting. Cooking has also given me far more time to do the cool stuff I like to do since I do not need to spend as much time chewing (pre-processing) raw food like all of my raw food eating living primate cousins and extinct early (pre-fire) ancestors needed to do just to survive.

Clothes. I really like my clothes – they keep my mostly hairless, pasty white, modern primate body comfortable and protected no matter the season. My hat keeps the sun off my balding head and my boots allow me to move over all manner of terrain.

Corrective lenses. (aka glasses, spectacles) allow me to clearly see the world around me, see the distant mountains and read distant words, not fall into holes or off cliffs, or be eaten by a predator as I journey about. They also allow me to see and appreciate the many wonderful augmentations, upgrades, adaptations, and advantages to the art of biohacking.

Internal upgrades: The staples in my intestines where my appendix used to reside keep the contents of my guts from spilling out into my body cavity (at least until the incision healed up – but the staples remain).

Infection. I have had several bacterial infections including Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Clostridium difficile, multiple episodes of sinusitis, and luckily only one episode of appendicitis, just to name a few. In every case, antibiotics and pain killers came to the rescue and pulled me back from the brink of existence, made me a bit more comfortable while I recovered – and here I am today writing these words.

Vaccines. I have and will continue to receive all the expert-recommended vaccines. Vaccines and immunotherapy are ways science has found to biohack and upgrade the human immune system in order to give us super-human resistance to biological microscopic invaders wanting to use our warm, wet, incubator-like bodies as factories for more of their kind.

About to get my yearly influenza vaccine.

Vaccines introduce a weakened or killed infectious biological agent into the body allowing the body’s immune “army” to recognize and remember it’s “mugshot,” and then develop a defensive strategy to deal with that invader if it ever detects it trying to invade the body’s environment in the future.

Speaking of infectious invaders I was once possibly exposed to the rabies virus while helping an animal that had been attacked by an unknown predator. Rabies is almost always deadly so I preventatively received the rabies vaccine. Was I actually exposed? I will never know. But what I do know is I that am still alive and healthy. What I also know is if I had chosen to not receive the vaccine as a preventative measure against the viral agents that I may or may not have been exposed to – I may have developed rabies and died. I was not willing to even consider taking that chance – so I opted for the logical choice: I received the vaccination and whatever the case may be – I live.

I was once cut by a jagged piece of rusty, dirty metal. Because Tetanus is a nasty disease that can easily be prevented by a Tetanus vaccine – I immediately received a Tetanus booster vaccine and guess what – no Tetanus. Maybe the filthy piece of metal did not have any Tetanus organisms on it, maybe it did – I was not willing to take the chance – so I opted to err on the side of caution and get the vaccine.

So yes – from my point of view, and the point of view of all the world’s experts – vaccines are a wonderful and very helpful form of biohacking that many of us alive today would not be alive without.

Getting my influenza vaccine

I was once accidentally envenomated by a wild Timber rattlesnake. I was rushed to the emergency room, received anti-venin, (anti-venom), spent 3.5 days recovering in the hospital, and I fully recovered. The snake 🐍 is still alive and well in his forest – it was not his fault, it was entirely mine.

Photo by Steve Atkins

Personal Protective Equipment. I wear my Personal Protective Equipment when needed. My PPE keeps me safe from environmental conditions, situations, contaminants, and pathogens which may harm my human biology. Most recently I have needed to use my PPE far more often than not due to the virus known as SARS CoV-2 which causes the illness known as COVID-19 aka Coronavirus.

Wearing a filter mask while a pulse oximeter reports my blood 02 level.

The future: As I age, I may need to make use of even more biohacks and I will be more than happy to receive them as long as they support, improve, and/or augment my health, quality of life, and/or my safety and performance as all the others have done. From my point of view – biohacking our bodies with science, technology, engineering, and chemistry is a great way to heal, repair, augment, and extend our lives and to provide a protective shield of science and technology around and within our fragile primate bodies.

The Future

In the very near future, biohacking technology will give the human-animal even more amazing and unbelievable cyborg superpowers.

Two existing biohacks undergoing continuous research and development that have recently piqued my interest are the already in use in some applications Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) “microchips” and, the as yet to be fully developed and implemented human-machine interface technology Nuralink and others are working on as I write these words.

Let’s examine these two technologies in more detail.

RFID

My research and the resulting findings suggest that having a RFID enabled “microchip” implant might be a wonderful way to streamline your life and increase your efficiency and productivity. Below I have outlined a few ways RFID and other implantable cybernetic technologies could, and eventually will, greatly benefit those of us who choose to accept the fact that these technologies are just another fascinating and useful part of our species’ own evolution.

Daily life chores.

Imagine never needing to carry all those outdated plastic cards and archaic heavy metal keys and bulbous key fobs in your pockets/purse/wallets.

Source: Internet search.

Access security and safety.

Imagine opening doors to gain access to restricted/members-only areas such as offices, classrooms, labs, health clubs, manufacturing facilities, military, and government buildings. You could auto-unlock and/or auto-open home or car’s door when your hands are full and you are within range of the car/home’s sensors. Power on or precondition your home or vehicle from a distance using a specific hand gesture, skin tap, or eye blink code, or spoken codeword(s), or time of day parameters set in the user’s connected smart device. You could unlock your smartphone, or computer with just the swipe of a hand or touch of a finger. When holding a smartphone or other “smart” devices it would auto-sense the user’s ID and auto-unlock. Put down the device and it would instantly auto-lock – no secret codes or passwords to remember.

Random internet photo

Theft Issues. Unlike cash, credit card, smartphone or PC, any data stored on a RFID device would be safely and securely hidden within the user at all times so it would be very hard to steal.

Shopping. It would be so much easier, faster and hassle-free and it might go something like this – imagine walking into the grocery/department store and simply picking up the items you want to buy and walking out of the store. If you needed more than a few items you could simply pick them up and load them into your bag, box, or cart, and just walk out of the store and get back to business. A possible way this could work: As you shop, your implanted RFID device, coupled with the RFID technology in each item you have selected, would keep track of all the items in your possession. Your purchase would be confirmed as you exit the store where you would pass through an exit scanning “automatic cashier/gatekeeper” unit that would log all the purchases in your possession and automatically charge your bank account for all the items – at the speed of light. No long lines, no germ-infested paper/coin-based money, and no germy hackable card reader machines needed, and, if you are like me and often only need one or two items, no potentially germ-covered shopping cart is needed – just a far faster, smoother, hassle-free experience. Unfortunately, this new technology would also mean far fewer cashiers will be needed – but then I suppose that is just progress in our modern world of technology.

Source: Internet search.

Elderly security. Imagine having the option, especially when you are older, of having your health monitored constantly via your RFID implant unit. If a life-threatening condition developed or a vital sign goes out of line you would receive a text alert from the “Tricorder” app on your smart device. If you had a “smart” device you would be prompted to acknowledge the incident as real or a false alarm. If you responded “real” or did not respond at all and/or if you did not have a smart device and if the condition was acute enough, far enough out of line, or for a long enough duration – such as a during a fall, diabetic emergency, heart attack, aneurysm, or stroke – then the system would alert you as normal but it would also immediately dispatch paramedics to your location as pinpointed via the GPS in your connected smart device. In the future, the external smart device will not be needed as RFID devices will have built-in GPS which will allow instant tracking of the victim’s location so in the event of an emergency where the user is unable to respond – help will be dispatched even faster to the user’s exact location. Implantable RFID devices with GPS technology do not exist today but they most certainly will in the not so distant future.

Source: https://www.emtutah.com/ch_courses/naemt-tactical-courses/gems/

This technology would be very beneficial to the elderly, diabetics, physically and mentally challenged individuals, and people with a history of other acute conditions and seizure disorders, as well as people working in high-risk environments, etc.

Imagine the day when you are elderly and or/the worst-case scenario happens and you have a heart attack, seizure, blood sugar emergency, or you fall and hit your head and are unable to grab your phone or life-aleart button to hit 911 – yet within minutes, the ambulance arrives like magic and you receive the help you need and therefore – you survive.

RFID implants would also negate the use of “Life Alert” style necklace pendants and similar devices that are worn on the wrist and either activated by the user at the push of a button when in distress and/or self-activate when they sense a fall.

Implanted RFID units would be a wonderful upgrade to those amazing technologies as they would be under the skin and non-removable. This would be beneficial because as we all know, one of the major problems of Life Alert style devices is simply getting the elderly to wear them and then to remember to push the button when they have an emergency.

Tracking. implantable RFID devices with GPS tracking technology-enabled. (Currently, at the writing of this post, this is not possible due to limitations of the technology…even though some people seem to think so). Active RFID/GPS tracking could be used to keep track of the children, the elderly, and potentially dangerous criminals who have been released back into society. They could be programmable to alert the authorities when the person with the RFID unit exits a predetermined zone of restriction. In the event, the user left the zone of restriction they could easily be tracked down by the authorities.

This would be especially useful with elderly folks who often have memory issues or are just simply stubborn and forgetful and often leave their life alert device resting on a nearby table or in their home when they go out – and as we know that is about as helpful as not using your seatbelt in a speeding car.

Prison Reform

RFID tracking technology also has the potential to change the prison system as we see it today. For those individuals incarcerated for non-violent crimes that do not require being locked away in a physical high-security prison – they could be confined at home to serve out their time. During this time they could participate as functioning members of society in that they could work beneficial jobs either from home or from places of employment. As long as they did not deviate from predetermined zone of restriction locations as set forth in their court-appointed sentence, they would have much more freedom to be active members of society, feel useful, and not be contributing to the drain on society that is our current prison system.

Disease mitigation. The future of RFID and other implantable “microchip” technologies will undoubtedly include bio-sensing and remote programmability which would also be very useful in stopping epidemics and pandemics before they start. As outlined earlier – RFID devices could be designed to sense vital signs of the user and detect the presence of dangerous pathogens/antibodies/chemicals within the body. If the user’s vital signs fit the parameters of a certain infection, the user would receive a text/email from the RFID devices companion application on their “smart” device/mobile device/personal computer along with directions on what they may be infected with, how to handle the situation, how soon they should see a physician, what procedures and medications might help the situation, and if they should self-isolate. The RFID device would also more easily enable contact tracing options, it would more easily allow contact tracing applications and organizations to alert the RFID user to who their last contacts were and who may have been exposed – or may have exposed them – to the infectious agent etc. Having a system like this in place would also allow constant contact tracing/monitoring of sick individuals thereby protecting the entire population from future infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics.

All these things and more would be possible with implantable RFID microchip technologies. This kind of biohacking has massive potential to streamline our lives, give millions of people the comfort, convenience, and safety they need, and save the lives of countless people.

Proven by science.

RFID implants are a proven technology that has been used successfully for decades in animals for identification and to open automatic doors – so there is no good reason why it should not be used in humans.

A radiograph (X-Ray) of a cat with a RFID “microchip” identification implant.

Firearm safety.

Coupled with a special trigger lock on older firearms and a built-in “smart gun” lock on new ones – this technology would let me and only me be the only person who could operate my personal firearms. *This would also reduce gun accidents and theft since each gun would be custom RFID key-coded to its user. If a firearm with this technology was found by a child or stolen it would be useless to them.

Fitness and health.

A RFID implant could instantly relay everyday fitness and health status to a companion app. It could alert the user of serious health conditions and situations such as when the user was entering into a potentially life-endangering activity. The RFID unit, coupled to an external smart device equipped with environmental sensors, could detect life-threatening parameters such as sudden acceleration/deceleration/heart rate, temperature, pressure, toxic gasses, etc. it would instantly alert the user via their connected smart device and, if there was no if-this-then-that directive response from the user, the system would automatically call a 911 dispatcher/medical professionals via the built-in “life alert” style device I mentioned earlier. If the user was rendered unconscious by an action, environmental parameter, or a serious health condition that was out of the nominal range, the RFID device would allow the en-route ENT’s instant access to the user’s medical history, current medications, conditions, and, bio-sign history from the last few days. This knowledge would allow them to know not only the user’s location but also what possible health or environment-related circumstances may have lead up to the user’s current predicament and therefore they would be better prepared to treat the user’s condition upon arrival on the scene.

Payment. Being able to pay for goods/services without needing to pull out a card/cash or go through a check out/teller line and punch filthy germ covered buttons on the card reader at check out/fuel stations etc.

GPS navigation capabilities. After setting my desired location on my smart device app, my RFID device would direct me to that location using a gentle vibration and/or under-skin light. If I deviated from my course by more than a preset parameter – it would let me know. It would keep me on track and upon arrival at the destination coordinates, it would vibrate or flash my preset arrival sequence letting me know I had a arrived. It could also be set to detect the direction of north, home, or any other preset location that I set on the companion application. The smart device would need to be within range for GPS connectivity or to change the RFID device’s settings – at least until the technology is developed to entirely replace handheld smart devices.

Privacy. Yes, there are obviously some important security and privacy issues, just like there are important security and privacy issues with mobile devices, credit cards, internet access, email, online banking, etc… I feel certain these issues can and will be worked out because the benefits far outweigh the dangers.

I know all this sounds like science fiction – but so did the smartphone a few decades ago.

Having an implantable RFID enabled device would streamline, speed up, and help so many things and so many people and personally, I would be more than happy to receive an implanted RFID microchip biohack if it would give me some of these superhuman abilities.

But haven’t you heard about all the RFID conspiracy theories?

No, just no. I’m not at all worried about all the conspiracy theories stating (without credible evidence) that Google, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, or “the government” is working to track us with RFID chips injected into us via vaccines. Believe that if you like and I respect your choice however before we continue on, maybe you should read my previous blog post on that very subject. Back to reality. The simple fact is that companies have been tracking us for decades through our SSN, online purchases, “rewards” cards, on our personal computers, smart devices, and even via our cars for many years. If I were a criminal I would be very worried, but as I am a law-abiding citizen – I really just do not care if “they” know where I am or what kind of things I am buying. I have better things to do than worry about marketing. I have self-control. I only buy something when I need it or want it, not because some company has tailored its marketing ploy in my general direction – well, except maybe for chocolate and good stout.

Then I hear people say “But I heard that “biohacking” and RFID microchips were predicted by some pulpit pounding preacher, soothsayer, internet “influencer,” or ancient prophet – or maybe by Nostradamus himself – to be indicators of the “End times,” or the “number or mark of the beast.” 

Here’s the thing: from the perspective of the evidence, most of those predictions and prophets (maybe I should call them profits) including Nostradamus – start to look like fear-mongering manufactured drama stooges using fear as a way to sell an idea, a book they wrote, their merchandise, or they may just simply be asking for your money outright to, in return, somehow miraculously “save,” protect, or shield you from “demons”, “devils,” from “burning in hell,” and/or from some imaginary malevolent “beast.”   More and more, all of these individuals are looking like the mouth-breathing, self-righteous, religious book thumping, tabloid writers of their times pushing out fear, drama, and narrow-minded ways of thinking all in the name of attention and profit.  Their ways of thinking have no verifiable evidence to support any of their way out lunatic fringe claims.  These so-called beasts and “end times” have been predicted several times since the beginning of…um…time…and…um…well – where are they? 

The real beast here is manufactured fear and the god many are choosing to worship is the almighty dollar.  

  Yes, this is an end time. This very moment in time is the end time of the very last moment in time.  From a cosmic perspective, time itself is endless.  We human animals – our species – yes, we will have an ending at some point when our species ceases to exist due to either to a natural disaster rendering the planet unlivable such as an asteroid/cometary impact, a massive volcanic eruption, or by his own hand with man overpopulating and overheating the planet and forcing anthropogenic climate change by his overuse of fossil fuels or, the release of a natural or man-made highly infectious pathogen that wipes out our species (no, not COVID-19, it is child’s play compared to what I am talking about).  Or we will overpopulate the planet and be forced to move out into space leaving our trashed planet behind thereby ending our time upon it. 

Our species own “End Times” will be positive or negative or somewhere in between and it will be brought about by our own actions or by the action of nature – not by invisible gods/demons or some tiny bit of harmless high technology inserted under our skins.   

Please, before you choose to believe and share questionable, fear-focused stories, please use your big monkey brains and ignore all the fear-driven conspiracy theories focused on hogwash and hocus pocus – and just focus on just the facts and the evidence. 

The facts and the evidence support that “biohacking” body repairs, upgrades, augmentations, and modification technologies are just part of our human evolution. 

?Human = Machine or Machine = Human? 

The future will hold an even greater evolution of “biohacking” to include custom electronics and mechanical devices with all of the above-listed features and far more we cannot even imagine today as well as machine-brain interfaces such as what Elon Musk’s Nuralink is working on which will allow mind-to-machine and mind-to-mind direct communication, therefore, giving people who have lost the use of their hands/feet and even their voice – the ability to interface with machines and then communicate with others again. 

It will also give us the ability to not only create and benefit from almost exact replicas of lost appendages (think Luke Skywalker’s arm and the Luke Arm) and internal organs – ask any diabetic and I am sure they would gladly accept a biohacked pancreas – other organ modifications and adaptations such as personalized sexual performance systems and a smorgasbord of cosmetic modifications and augmentations, and more thorough and effective Sexual Reassignment Surgery. These more advanced biohacks will allow the paralyzed to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the sighted to see even more of the electromagnetic spectrum (such as with Geordi LaForge’s “VISOR” in Star Trek The Next Generation), 

…and they may one day even allow us to breathe underwater. 

The evolution of biohacking is as inevitable as our biological evolution and, because our technology is a product of our evolution,  the two are as intricately and intimately connected as we are intricately and intimately connected to and reliant upon nature.

It is in our nature to evolve, therefore, it is in our nature to biohack.