How Biohacking is Changing the Future – What is Biohacking?

Hello net, it's Steph Janson Last week, Elon Musk, one of the most prominent inventors of our time, announced that he wants to put tiny electrodes into human brains in order to increase our intelligence and memory

Some experts are even predicting a future in which we can upload and download memories "Matrix Style" "I know Kung Fu" But before you write this off as science fiction, consider that Musk has already built multi-billion dollar companies that are building electric cars, roofs that can harvest sunlight, reusable space rockets, magnetically levitated pods that in 35 minutes will take you from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where yet another of his companies is trying to solve traffic by boring tunnels under the city It's like Musk has some kind of condition where every year he just has to revolutionize a new industry So when he says electrodes are going in our brain, it's worth paying attention

But perhaps even more worth noting is the fact that there are already people experimenting with all kinds of implants Amal Graafstra, sick of losing his car keys all the time, planted near field communication chips and radio frequency transmitters into the fleshy piece between his thumb and finger, allowing him to unlock all kinds of things, like his phone, his computer, his car, and even his home And now he's crowdfunded development of his own chips Amal is part of what some people are calling the "biohacker movement" and he's not alone Another biohacker nicknamed "Left" implanted into her fingertips a rare earth magnet called neodymium which responds to electromagnetic radiation

Using these magnets, Left has added a sixth sense to her body She can now detect how strong reception is from nearby cell phone towers Yet another biohacker, named Rich Lee, implanted magnets into his ears, which received information from a magnetic cord connected to his music player, acting as hidden earbuds He also connected his magnets to a range finder, which gave him sort of an echolocation ability, which would hum in his ears as objects became closer He's also talked about plans of connecting his magnets to his phone's GPS systems, so that he can transmit directions directly into his head

Then there's Neil Harbisson, who implanted an antenna inside his skull, allowing him to overcome his colorblindness This antenna translates about 360 different colors into sounds which he hears inside his head He can even see, or hear rather, colors like infrared or ultraviolet, which we can't see with the naked eye Incidentally, Neil is also the first person to be recognized as a cyborg by his government, on his passport Now if all of that sounds trippy, consider that any device that can receive a signal can in theory be hacked

And biohackers aren't just hacking gadgety devices – they're also hacking the devices which we need to live An infamous biohacker named Barnaby Jack demonstrated that, using only using a radio transmitter, he could remotely cause an insulin pump to release a lethal dose of insulin, or cause an implanted pacemaker to deliver a lethal shock Now Jack kept on pushing the boundaries and was scheduled to deliver a demonstration whereby he would show how he could an implanted defibrillator to deliver a lethal shock to a dying patient But in a twist, one week before the demonstration was scheduled to happen, Jack was found dead in his apartment Though Jack never completed his demonstration, he highlighted the massive vulnerabilities of medical devices, leading some device manufacturers to issue warnings that they weren't safe, and leading some celebrities like former US VP Dick Cheney to disable all remote control functions on their devices

Understandably, biohackers themselves have been some of the most concerned, organizing themselves into groups which advocate for the rights of people with implants and also into companies that create and emphasize the safety and security of the devices which they implant And that's the real story here, because while biohacking used to be an underground experiment, it's now starting to touch companies and governments with real power The vision behind biohacking is to blur the line between person and machine to create extra senses, and if they've been able to do that on a shoestring budget, imagine what they could do with a billion dollars and a thousand engineers Which brings us right back to Elon Musk and Neuralink The mission of Neuralink and its brain implants are going to be to help us communicate with machines in a much faster and more intuitive way

Think of how long it takes you to get something done on your phone The gap between thinking about something that you want to have done, and the time that it takes your phone to deliver that to you Think of how long it would take you to find this video on YouTube You'd have to unlock your phone, find the YouTube app, painstakingly type something with only two thumbs, scroll through a list of options which YouTube returns to you, and then select the right one With Neuralink, you may just be able to picture the layout of YouTube with my face on it (that's a scary thought) and use that as a search query to return the video that you're looking for

But getting to the right video on YouTube is a bit of a trivial use case for this technology But it highlights how we can merge our brains with computers so that they can interface and communicate with each other But once you can do that, you can do everything, from setting the thermostat, to creating an Amazon shopping list, to dialing 911, queuing up a playlist, sending your pet robot on complex errands, or even making a mental note, in the most literal sense of the word And so what we're really talking about is a world in which the gap between thinking about something and having that something happen, shrinks to zero This has been your Ounce of Awesome

Be good, and I'll see you next week



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