The biohacking movement even expands into the world of human augmentation and implantations. The emergence of microchips in society could potentially transform man into machine. Implantations are at the forefront of the biohacker movement.
British engineer and Cybernetics professor, Kevin Warwick, is known as the man who biohacked his own body. During his career at the University of Reading, Warwick began a series of experiments which he deemed to be “Project Cyborg”. In 1998, Warwick inserted an electronic implant into his arm which could directly interact with the human nervous system and the brain. The implant consisted of a RFID — a radio frequency transmitter. The chip uses electromagnetic fields in order to reach and identify specific objects. Such a small chip can carry up to 2,000 bytes of data.
“Perhaps the most common implant tried out is the radio frequency identification device (RFID), more recently in the form of a near field communication (NFC) version. This is essentially the same technology as is used in contactless payment cards…”⁴
The RFID device allowed Professor Warwick to turn on lights, open doors automatically, ultimately connecting him to the university’s computer system. In 2002, Warwick decided to push the envelope by developing a more sophisticated experiment which involved inserting implants in not only his nervous system, but his wife’s as well. After inputting a hundred-electrode array into his body, which could connect his nervous system to a computer, an identical chip was implanted in his wife, Irena.
By extending the limits of what is possible, Warwick was able to investigate nerve-to-nerve communication. Furthermore, Warwick used this setup to control a robotic hand-enabling him to experience sensations of pressure and force. The development of technology similar to Warwick’s experiments involving extrasensory communications could potentially result in a world in which humans experience each other’s thoughts or emotions.
The concept of human implantations has become a trend among the public. Wisconsin company, Three Square Market, made headlines after employees were offered the chance to get RFID chip implanted in their hands-using NFC technology to access computer, unlock doors, and make purchases. Meanwhile, companies such as Grindhouse Wetware wish to sell products promoting human augmentation through affordable, open source technology. Biohacker activist, Hannes Sjöblad, strives to democratize access to biotechnologies which may potentially benefit humans. As the founder of Swedish biohacking group Bionyfiken, Sjöblad strives to promote the use of biotechnology such as RFID implantations which could make daily life simpler.
Many people recognize human evolution to be the process of change which explains how the human lineage derived from apelike ancestors nearly seven million years ago. However, the biohacking movement proves that humans continue to evolve. Adaptation plays a major role in human evolution. As technology continues to improve, it is expected that humans would enhance themselves biologically. The biohacking movement was inevitable in today’s fast paced world.