Cyborg with a Lamp Attached to his Head

Biohacking: The Future of Genitalia?

Group 28

Imagine using you hand to make contactless payments. Imagine giving the colour-blind the ability to perceive a rainbow. Imagine a device that could vibrate your genitalia on command. It might not all be a pretty future, but for some it is the future they strive for. Welcome to the world of ‘Do It Yourself Biohacking’.

Dealing with Regulation

DIY biohacking offers an opportunity to sidestep the bureaucracy of regulation and to create devices that might not traditionally be developed due to a lack of profitability. However, the associated risks can include serious harm without the safeguards of regulation. Given technology’s inexorable progression, it is reasonable to suppose that biohacking is an inevitable stage of human development regardless of risks or legislative intervention, especially given that 50% of people surveyed by us would consider biohacking for themselves.

Developers of biohacking devices that are sold on a ‘do it yourself’ basis, are able to retail products that would be commercially non-viable if regulated to CE or

FDA standards. Device users traditionally implant with the help of friends or an unregulated ‘surgeon’. Medical professionals are largely unable to participate in this legal gray area, one of the most prominent reasons is that they must ‘first do no harm’ which could be somewhat infringed by implanting unregulated technology into people. This poses an interesting problem as it could be fair to say that by not operating to avoid harming the patient, they are allowing the patient to harm themselves with unregulated individuals operating on them.

One problem with regulation is the right to bodily autonomy (‘my body, my choice’), but in this case it is less contentious than with an issue like abortion. Bearing this in mind it is difficult to impose direct penalties on those ‘hacking’ themselves, instead regulation would have to focus on limiting access to devices or imposing penalties on those who operate. Public opinion seems to support limiting access (68%), but as anyone who keeps up with the political landscape may know, consensus does not qualify a decision as wise *cough* Brexit *cough*.  A hedonist approach to ethics would not appear to support regulation unless you consider that any additional pressures on the NHS due to faulty biohacking would become a societal problem.

DIY Biohacking InfographicDIY Biohacking InfographicDIY-Biohacking-InfographicA less direct approach may be to support the biohacking community by providing a legal framework around which businesses can be built and regulated to safely implant devices. These businesses could operate under a similar framework to the body art business, despite this also needing legal updates, this is generally publicly supported. By ensuring that a framework is in place to make biohacking safe, a deontological approach to ethics is taken whereby the ethical priority is that implementation of biohacking is done safely and with the best of intentions.

A simpler approach is to take a ‘laissez faire’ attitude (see also Stoic) or Wu Wei depending on your geophilosophical preferences), it is likely that the most harmful effects of DIY biohacking will be self-limiting as people’s natural aversion to body mutilation may suppress the worst of any injuries. The Stoic school of thought would suggest accepting some injuries as an inevitable part of progress regulating only examples of corruption and misuse.

Danger and Discrimination

Nevertheless, public safety must be considered. As the biohacking community grows, the number of potential biohackers continues to increase. The current regulation for implants only apply to “medical devices”. A loophole exists for implants to be designated as non-medical and thereby entirely circumvent these regulations. By exploiting this loophole, biohacking start-ups are able to avoid the time and high costs associated with receiving regulatory approval. However, alarmingly this removes the need for any oversight of the engineering and manufacture of these implants. As a result, they could not be implanted by medical professionals, without risking their medical license. As previously stated, currently devices are implanted by body artists, and enthusiasts; often in biohacking conferences.

The unique selling point of biohacking is it provides a path beyond the biological limitations of the human body. Nonetheless, as these devices have both been designed and implanted by individuals with little-to-no engineering or medical knowledge, the risks engendered by neglecting proper practice overshadows the possible rewards. From an ethics standpoint this argument is best described as a deontological position; an ethical framework which views actions taken as more important than the resulting consequences, and where morality is judged based on adherence to the proper rules and procedures.

Additionally, in the quest to improve one’s own abilities, upgrading yourself through biohacking will eventually allow an individual to surpass the realm of human possibility. This begs the question, if a typical person and a biohacker applied for the same job, but the biohacker had modified themselves to perform significantly better, beyond the reach of normal human potential, who should be granted this job? This is a concern, as biohacking can provide new channels of discrimination that could harmfully divide society. The seeds for this new division can already be observed as it is the desire of many biohackers to be reclassified as “transhuman” or “cyborg”.

Furthermore, within this community, discrimination between biohackers could also become prevalent. The danger is that as more advanced implants are released due to a growing interest from renowned technology companies, such as Elon Musk’s proposed “Neurolink”. Promoting an unhealthy desire in some to constantly want to be implanted with the latest body modifications. Opening the door for social stigma against individuals that are unable to keep up due to factors that restrict access, such as social class.

DIY Biohacking is clearly a contentious issue. Both the disabled and able bodied can benefit from custom, innovative devices. However, the risk to the public from faulty or malicious technology is too great to ignore. Regulation is required but balancing between risks and benefits of biohacking is also important. Too much and public health may suffer as biohackers go ‘underground’, too little and the societal consequences could be catastrophic. We feel that a good compromise could be regulation like the body art industry.

62 thoughts on “Biohacking: The Future of Genitalia?

  1. Fascinating article and great use of the word geophilosophical.

    It would have been interesting to examine further how these principles differ when potentially helping disabled people to live an unhindered life rather than selfishly fulfilling the fantasies of healthy people. Can it be considered ethical to work on life improving technology if generations later it could be abused by those seeking personal gain.

    On a more pressing note I find your comments on Brexit quite disgraceful to be published in an academic paper. The democratic will of the people has been expressed and no amount of genital enhancement is going to change that!!!

  2. An interesting topic to pursue but if I’m being overly critical I’m not too clear on the ethic issues here, although you have brought in a number of ethical theories to expand the topic. To clarify, what is the ethical dilemma?

    Quote: ” This begs the question, if a typical person and a biohacker applied for the same job, but the biohacker had modified themselves to perform significantly better, beyond the reach of normal human potential, who should be granted this job?”

    Couldn’t we rephrase this, to wit:
    ” If a typical person and an educated person applied for the same job, but the educated person had, via their education, prepared themselves to perform significantly better, beyond the reach of the normal person’s potential, who should be granted this job?”

    Piercings and tattoos have become avenues of personal self-expression for many in recent years. Bio-hacking may be seen in the same light, despite the fact that the first two are seen as aesthetic whilst the latter is seen as functional.

    Maybe the topic can be expanded into companies (such as start-ups) that specialise in supplying the growing bio-hacking market instead of individuals who practice it?

    Or have I missed the point? If so, I’m sorry, please clarify it for me, or point me to the relevant text.

    Thanks.

  3. Many interesting points raised here, although perhaps not presented so coherently.

    The human body is not very well adapted to do anything; we can’t swim as well as fish, we can’t climb as well as monkeys and we can’t run as fast as cheetahs. Instead we have made tools like boats, ladders or bicycles to aid us in certain activities. This has been done since the stone age, so surely ‘biohacking’ can just be seen as the next logical step, merely just integrating these tools further.

    Perhaps we should not argue about whether this is right or wrong, but accept that the spread of ‘biohacking’ is inevitable. In this case your article is asking the right questions, the regulation of this practice is only going to become more relevant. We should take this fresh opportunity to set out a water tight set of ethical regulations rather than let them fall into the corruption of commercial interests as similar things have done in the past.

  4. I think you’ve missed an opportunity to explore the ethics behind aiding the disabled with biohacking instead of allowing able bodied people to further enhance themselves as other comments have mentioned. This technology could do wonders to help those with physical disabilities in ways we are currently striving to uncover.

    With regards to your comments on the involvement of medical professionals, if biohacking was regulated and put in place to relieve physical disabilities, there would be no question of doing more harm then good and the NHS, cost permitting, could use it. However, I disagree with you arguing that medical professionals are inadvertently doing harm by not safely implanting this technology. This is akin to arguing that tobacco should be available on prescription to limit its use instead of doing what is already done and explain the dangers but allow people to make their own decisions. Unfortunately, I think both situations are similar in that, we give people autonomy but if people chose to damage their bodies, medical professionals and the NHS must be there to pick up the pieces. If biohacking becomes available to everyone and isn’t just in place to help those who could benefit, it will be exploited as with other legal substances, putting another undue strain on the NHS. These operations will be performed privately as they are aesthetic, but as with every operation, come with a risk and most likely higher risk due to the insertion of a foreign object, that will be need to be rectified by the NHS as private hospitals don’t have the facilities to deal with such catastrophic consequences.

    I don’t believe biohacking should be available to the general public other than those who are deemed to need it by governing health bodies. I think it will otherwise become an issue like tobacco, where it was mistakenly sold to worldwide before people knew much about it and now we are reaping the consequences.

    On the other hand, we allow people to have plastic surgery to “enhance” their appearance, so why not enable people to modify themselves with technology. As you’ve argued, body art is regulated and publically supported, so provided it is made safe, why not do the same with biohacking? There will undoubtedly be people who practice biohacking with or without regulations, and if the industry continues to grow, it may be safer and reduce damage to regulate and enable people to undergo these procedures in a safer environment. It is potentially a wise move to regulate it even though I personally disagree with its use.

  5. Interesting article, though a bit discombobulated.

    I think an useful perspective to employ here is John Stuart Mill’s freedom principle. In fact, this ties in to Brock A Lee’s comments on tobacco too.

    Mill states that an individual should be allowed to put himself at risk, so long as he is warned of the risk beforehand and only he is put at risk by the actions taken. According to Mill, then, an informed adult should be able to act as unreasonably as he pleases if he harms no-one else. This might seem counter-intuitive to modern sensibilities (take seat belt laws, for example), but I think it can set useful guidelines in how to treat social issues. In this case, we can assume that only responsible adults are permitted to undergo biohacking, as with other body modifications. It is also obvious that the only person being put at direct risk from biohacking is the hacker himself.

    Thus, to me, the question becomes “How can we adequately quantify and communicate the risks associated with this practice?”

    The only answer that comes to mind is time. As with drugs, alcohol and tobacco, the risk of an activity only becomes clear once many people who took part in it grow old, and their health can be evaluated against a baseline. In the meantime, I would argue that it would be futile to attempt banning or severely regulating the practice, for the simple reason that this would only push the activity underground rather than addressing the root issues.

    Biohacking might be regulated to only be accessible to adults if this isn’t already the case, and any modification putting the individual’s life in direct danger should be stopped. Beyond that, the government simply has a duty to warn people that the risks of biohacking are still being researched, and that they might be harming themselves.

    On the subject of the extra burden on the NHS, this is an argument commonly used by politicians to push more authoritarian regulation. One must bear in mind what the principle of socialised medicine is. If everyone cost the NHS the same amount, then surely we could get rid of the NHS altogether and just give everyone a fixed grant to take care of medical issues. The reason for state medical care is that some people do put themselves at higher risk, and society agrees that when a person’s health is at risk we all have a social duty to contribute to making them healthy. Otherwise why not ban high-risk sports, and why not deny treatment to the obese?

    In summary, some people will always like dangerous activities. And as long as they know what they’re doing, that’s okay. Why try and over-regulate a new industry when we have no hard facts yet?

  6. I agree with your conclusion following the points brought up. Biohacking is definitely an interesting field but a clear line of compromise should be made before it becomes an unethical issue.

  7. A very interesting article can’t say I’ve ever experienced Or heard of this before. I think The issue raised with using the medical devices Route as a loophole Presents an interesting ethical challenge. Should the government Look to provide Free Support to these biohackers And place And even larger burden on the NHS? Although this The safer and potentially More morally correct Action to take, Should The tax paying public of the UK accept a Compromise in regular services To facilitate this?

  8. Some… *interesting* explanations given. Have you considered the societal integration of biohacking? As in, would regulation, and the legal use of it thereafter, provide some legitimacy to it and alter public perception to make biohacking a favourable action instead of discriminated against?

  9. I think this is a very good article that deals with an issue that no doubt will affect us in the near future. I also agree with your conclusion regarding needing the right amount of regulation. However, I would have liked to see more on the social impacts of biohacking as ultimately it could affect our perception of each other and consequently is an interesting concept to discuss.

  10. Interesting article. These implants could provide extraordinary benefits to certain individuals with site loss, hearing loss etc. But if you safely regulate the devices for these cases where can a governing body draw the line?

    1. This is why I was a little confused reading this article. Where is the line drawn? Medical implants are done all the time by the NHS for people with disabilities, but from a little research the guy in the image with the antenna is colourblind and technically that is a disability.. So whilst it seems black and white, that adds some grey.

      I guess the argument there is, should the NHS put funding towards disabilities deemed less extreme, instead of funding other activities? Arguably no. But then regulation of biohacking would further prevent these outside-edge case disabilities possibly getting some assistance without government funding.

      At the end of the day I don’t know where that leads us to. But I still feel it seems too sketchy to be ok, even the antenna chap having something home-brewed screwed into the base of his skull doesn’t seem a great idea.

  11. Well done to the author(s). Biohacking is a challenging topic/policy area, but one which we should be discussing and engaging with as soon as possible. As the authors highlight, biohacking poses enormous potential risks and challenges for individuals and society as a whole. As a firm believer in the importance of the state and regulation in emerging technologies, I strongly argue that regulation of the biohacking industry is necessary. I also believe that it is possible to develop a regulatory regime that would not stifle innovation, while still safeguarding public interest.

    I commend the authors for engaging with this challenging topic prior to biohacking becoming ‘mainstream’. The only way we will develop effective policy and regulation is if we engage with these difficult areas as early as possible, and keep the debate going, which is exactly what the authors have done. Would be interested to hear more on this topic!

  12. Very noteworthy article. I really enjoyed the first part regarding the regulatory issues. I believe we still have a long way to go to asses, how dangerous biohacking is and how much, as a society, we would like to protect individuals from the risk of being injured/harmed during the augmentation surgeries.

  13. This seems far more of an first look exploratory article rather than a full dive into the clear cut ethical positions and parties that hold them. Whilst interesting and entertaining to read, a final judgement doesn’t appear all that clear. Nor, at times, does the exact definition of who or what would be regulated and how the articles authors suggest any regulations are implemented. Interesting though nonetheless.

  14. A very insetting read. Feel like walking through a sci-fi movie.

    Surely the existence of biohacking is due to the presence of bio-implant. For those who naturally have flaws on their physical bodies, implanting really offered an option for them to enjoy the life as others do. The advance in technology was intended to make a better life, but this intention did not always work out. I totally agree with the consolidation in regulations, setting a standard framework is necessary. However, the technique of biohacking is too far in the future to forecast. People are always worried about the future. People are so paranoid about things that will potentially harm us. Back in time, when computer became widely used, economists forecasted a huge decline in occupations. Nevertheless, it turned out that computer actually created more occupations and made society blossom. The technology is far behind to keep up with the human mind, and the human imagination is far ahead of the ethical development.

    I like many critical points in the article, but I believe that human ethics never stopped developing with time. The ethical framework is adapting to the fashion of society. Although biohacking is at a start-up era, when one day it enters the mainstream of the world, the discussion of its ethical problem will be elevated to a whole new level which is difficult for most people to perceive at the moment.

    1. I agree Bobby, biohacking is certainly in the early stages of development, so perhaps an analysis of the ethics involved is premature considering how niche the field still is. Nonetheless it is good to start to think about the potential issues, before they become problems for us as a society.

  15. I believe that bio-hacking is a necessary step in human evolution. Over time evolution has worked to provide us with bodies that are able to perform a variety of tasks very well, and therefore led to the massive domination that the human race currently has over the globe. However the main problem with evolution is that it is slow, and limited by the natural materials that a growing organism can create.
    I believe that to take the next step in our evolution we must use the intellect we have gathered to further increase our capabilities. whether this be with stronger muscles, reinforced limbs or other pursuits.
    Without experimentation and mistakes this process is not going to happen, and yes mistakes can happen. the technology is not at a point where it can be installed risk free, however this is the case for many many different technologies that we currently take for granted, the initial pioneers experienced multiple setbacks and risked danger to themselves.
    One example i would like to point out is Madam Curie, a pioneer in understanding radiation and the development of this technology. for this she undertook great personal risk, and eventually died of radiation poisoning, however through her work we now have technology, including medicine, which we now take for granted.
    If someone is willing to take personal risk to develop these devices than i say let them. however, maybe it would be better if doctors were involved, as although they may see it as potentially causing damage, it is much less likely to if they were to offer their insight and opinion. By ignoring this and refusing to co-operate they are potentially making the situation worse.

  16. I love the phrasing of the introduction.

    Though the examples used in the introduction do highlight a key point. That most of these devices cannot be considered “necessary”. If they ere necessary, It wouldn’t by DIY Bio-hacking, It would be the use of medical implants.

    It surely cannot b ethical to have unnecessary devices installed in your body, if they then cause expensive complications which have to be dealt with by the NHS.

    Yes, people take risks, such as in extreme sports, which then cost the NHS, but the bio-hacking it taking it too far, in that regard.

  17. The possible future discrimination of people without advanced augmentation is certainly a fascinating idea I’d not before considered. But can this be considered Biohacking?

    To get to that point of discrimination it would have to be the norm or at least not unusual for people working/living in certain areas. Surely the main issue is the idea that those biohacking when it’s considered unusual (like the top image) and the discrimination they will face at doing something not well understood.

    I suppose I don’t know the exact definition of biohacking and as such it’s hard to know where the argument begins and ends. Regardless it seems it’s something that will continue, but any product leading to a level of popularity and significant benefit would surely be quickly regulated anyway?

  18. Am I the only person who sees this as a bit stupid? None of these things sound of much use at all. I might change my mind if Elon Musk does release some amazing brain-computer link chip but that may be decades away if it ever happens..

    Until then, I feel like regulating these ‘startups’ in the UK, since we have a national health service, is definitely a good idea. The NHS doesn’t have unlimited funding. Preventing idiots needing taxpayer funded healthcare sort out mistakes made when implanting buzzers into themselves seems sensible.

  19. I don’t really like this because body mutilation stuff really creeps me out! What if you do something and it goes wrong, you could be disfigured for life. I think its really important to protect people from doing things they might regret.

  20. This kind of thinking is really dangerous, normalising body modification teaches people they shouldn’t be happy with their body and that they need to change. We already have enough of an issue with fashion magazines setting unrealistic standards and now technology magazines will do too! There should be standards and regulation to make sure that society is protected from body shaming.

  21. this is a very interesting topic which raises several questions. I think there is definitely a future for implantable technology whether it is to monitor our health or improve our abilities. But if the industry does grow and take off it needs to be closely monitored and it needs to be decided what technology is allowed and for who. Medical practitioners or People specifically trained and licensed should only be allowed to implant such technology.
    I see the benefits for medical applications or to help the disabled but I’m unsure how ethical it would be to start to enhance human beings artificially
    If that happens then where does it stop?

  22. A very interesting article, I was one of those you surveyed and it was very interesting looking through the results of it to see how others viewed the issue. I love the infographic, it looks great and nicely gets the major points across (even though I could only see it when viewing on mobile?), especially that despite the negative thoughts of many people questioned, around half of those asked said they would or might consider doing it!

  23. Have you considered the implications on the elderly? As age limits our usefulness to society, we may be expected to improve ourselves in order to keep up with the physical demands of day to day life and so as to not be a burden on subsequent generations. While there are certainly potential benefits to this, it could lead to exploitation as the elderly may feel pressured into modifications that they may not want. Furthemore, if the elderly do opt for body modification, this may increase their life span, creating a resource deficit due to an abundance of an active population.

    I looked at your data and noticed that there were few elderly respondents, this may be something you need to remedy in order to consider your dataset to acurately represent the population. That being said data collection on public opinion is certainly a good idea when considering an ethical dilemma, I would be further interested to see if your article affects the opinions of your respondents.

  24. You raise a good point in regards to a typical person applying for the same job as someone who has utilised biohacking. While many may think they have an unfair advantage, maybe biohacking is the future and people need to develop themselves as much as possible to keep up. If you don’t have the correct qualifications then you dont get the job. If the posibility of someone modifying themselves is there and they are hence able to perform better with such modifications, why would you want anyone else? This surely can only advance industry for the better – increased productivity, greater efficiency?
    As for it being unfair, the same flaws exist in the current system with regards to education so why should this progression be prevented for fear of being unfair.

  25. I think the issue of autonomy is an important point. As mentioned in another comment, we maybe shouldn’t encourgae people to change their bodies further than current beauty/fashion maganzines already do, however, this isn’t just about image. People would be able to modify their physical abilities for the better and advance humanity. Steve Keithson makes a good point of this.
    In addition, allowing people to experiment with this technology unrestricted but safely could be the solution to a multitude of problems currently being faced. Regulating this technology though could hinder development and keep those solutions locked away in creative minds – potential never fulfiled, problems never solved.

  26. Biohacking, like tattooing as mentioned, is a form of both art and expression. The demand is there and products are available. Regulating the crowdfunded home-brew start up companies making products is going to immediately kill them off or lead to a black market of implants, both of which are bad outcomes.

    In a free country surely you, of sound mind, should be allowed to do whatever you wish to your own body (of course this position hasnt changed drug laws) and so there should be no regulation or laws in place to prevent this. In the US people who make biohacking mistakes that require medical intervention will pay for that mistake. Whilst the UK has the NHS, perhaps if anything a monetary fine for surgical help could be the one legal position that doesnt block biohacking startups but also doesn’t cost the tax payer which seems the only concern of those not into biohacking.

  27. Some interesting thoughts there. It seems a difficult and wide ranging area to try to regulate on, which I guess is why they’ve been reluctant to open that can of worms so far. There seems to be some genuinely cool or useful things happening, like a woman with diabetes who developed her own insulin pump because the one the doctors gave her was rubbish. But that dangerous things group are completely bonkers and they need to be protected from harming themselves, so it’s a tricky balance on how harshly to regulate. I guess we’ll only know what was the best approach in a few decades time!

  28. I agree with PREdaTing in that in order to regulate the use and installation of these biohacking devices, the industry must be regulated by the NHS or similar organisation in the UK at least. This will cause additional tensions between NHS workers and the government during a time when conflicts of ideologies are already occurring. With regards to the ethical dilemma at hand, are you suggesting that the use of these devices is ethically wrong or have I missed something here?

  29. An interesting article which raises many important ethical considerations when it comes to biohacking, a topic that is only going to become more prevalent. The technology has the potential to provide many therapeutics for different problems but you also have to be weary that this may be exploited by others for cosmetic purpose. There is also a danger that biohacking could lead to discrimination whether this be because not everyone can afford it or discriminate against people when they are applying for jobs. Another interesting point is that would it not be better to regulate this problem more to stop in a way a sort of underground world of body hacking?

  30. As mentioned by another commenter, body image is an interesting issue to throw into the mix when considering the ethics of body hacking.

    You could end up with an unfortunate scenario where people aim to “upgrade” themselves as much as possible chasing some unattainable standard in an addiction, in a similar way to today’s D list celebrities being addicted to plastic surgery and artificial tanning! To be honest I’m not sure sure how you could best address that particular aspect.

    I do think the idea of using your hand as an oyster card is very cool!

  31. This could be so cool! I’d love to be able to upgrade myself but I would definitely want it to be safe! I think you’re right that there should be regulation but it needs to be balanced, maybe a bit tighter than body art business as well because it could be a lot more dangerous.

  32. I find the potential effects of DIY biohacking on the NHS concerning, why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for totally avoidable injuries from biohacking? Is it ethical to refuse to treat biohackers? Maybe somekind of license permiting you to ‘biohack’ would work so at least only the most experienced could do it? Cool article though, thanks.

  33. Biologically I would be concerned about the effect on childeren, development throughout the formative years could be adversley affected with biohacking. For instance, young childeren who bodybuild (concievably this could be biohacking with biometric tracking and data analysis) are at risk of stunting their growth. It is not a stretch either to imagine how young and impulsive minds may make rash irreversible modifications to their bodies from celebrety influences or peer pressure. With all the dangers that already suround our young, is it fair to add another? With the physical and psychological effects of this technology it might be difficult to put a person back together.

  34. I’m assuming biohacking applies to prosthetics? On this vain would the recent efforts of OpenBionics to create 3D printable prosthetic arms count as ‘DIY-Biohacking’? if so, despite being designed by a proffesional company, with the best of intentions (to create affordable and functional devices) the device may be caught up in a legislative nightmare for suposedly being of the same vein as vibrating genitalia! not really fair for all those amputees out there in my opinion. Might need to have a way of categorizing the different types of devices (EU/FDA medical device reglatory pathways might be appropriate).

  35. Don’t mention the brexit! 😉 But yes, fair point! Should point out I can’t really read the text on your graphs? Back to the article, I can see why people would want to do it, especially as you get older, or if you have a dissability (did you check for that in your survey?), still makes me shudder though! that being said, not really my place to say what someone should do to themselves (is that the whole ‘body autonomy bit?). I like the comparison to body art, it does all seem like a really extreme tatoo! Definitely something you might end up regreting .

  36. Not sure I buy the ‘next stage of human development’ bit, seems a bit excessive. Realistically it will just be a fad, I can’t imagine mutilating yourself for technology will become mainstream anytime soon. Also, its all well and good suggesting that less regulation may make more innovative medical devices ,but the complexity involved makes it seriously out of reach for even your average engineer to do in their garage.

  37. planned obselecence makes me worried here. if phones go out of date in a couple of years, the same thing could happen to vital organs in the worst case. I’d say that’s a possitive to DIY biohacking over buying biohacking stuff from a regulated supplier, you can at least be sure that it only fails when its broken. to be fair though, some of the more complicated parts would have to be built proffesionally or you could never trust them.

  38. I would not want anything that can store my data regulated too heavily. Regulation means that companies could have access to sensitive data about me, I’d be especially worried about the government selling it off. No way to regulate againt it anyway as it already happens! fitbit currently sell customer data for companies to traget their adverts optimally, you could never have a private moment again with regulated biohacking devcies monitoring everything you do. A potentially terrifying future.

  39. I can just imagine this adding to an already huge issue with body dismorphia, i’ve seen it in a few of the previous comments and I couldn’t agree more. I think images of models and celebrities depicting this kind of thing should be controlled in regards what they can show to different age groups, this could be ‘ethically questionable’ in terms of censorship but this could be balanced with teaching people about health body image using workshops.

    On a lighter note, the potential for this kind of technology for use by disabled people could be awesome. I’ve seen some interesting stuff on artificial inner ears for the deaf, and its got amazing potential. if the clearly talented biohacking community turned its attention to making technology like this there might be hope for us humans yet!

  40. Are wu wei or lazzei fair ethical principles? I suppose it gets the point across but still… This article doesn’t go deep enough, you should have focused on one particular area or a product for biohacking maybe? Interesting topic all the same and it reads well.

    A lot of commenters seem to be quite worried about biohacking but it’s been around for a while and I can’t see it being a problem anytime soon. That being said I can see a lot of the issues you’ve raised being a problem for future generations.

  41. Brain augmentation freaks me out the most, mostly because it gets way to philosofical for my taste (ie. where does you and and the software begin), it’s an interesting idea all the same and I can see why you’ve raised some concerns with stuff like class divides. That being said you could argue it’s just an exageration of what already exists what with public schooling, better butrition etc. not that that’s a justification, just food for thought.

  42. One of the people associated with the whole’ vibrating genital’ thing (great title btw) died recently:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-43973588

    Looking into his work, he seemed like a pretty sketchy character, some seriously questionable human rights violations. He was testing drugs on terminally ill patinets who couldn’t afford medication, arguably utilitatrian, but realistically a bit of a ***coughcough*** chump move if you ask me.

  43. Did you look into any opinions major religiouns may have on the matter? Often some of the ethical judgments from fair come from surprisingly logical place (can be a bit hit and miss though) I know that mromons can be a bit uneasy with blood transfusions, could there be any applicable moreal reason that could apply to biohacking?

    Personally I ike the data metric stuff, like fitbits, as they have a practical use and most importantly arn’t inside of me. anything more… invasive and I might have to pass!

  44. I was worried machines were taking our jobs, now I’m worried about machine people, so thanks for that! tbf, I guess the argument is ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ but it would have been nice to be able to keep my job without turning into a T-800 🙁

  45. I think if anything, a “legal framework” would help businesses, currently there is no way a company like apple or google would create a biohacking device, simply because it’s in such a legal grey area. Even if really harsh regulations are imposed, they could work around it knowinging that they are safely within the law.

    The body art business is a good idea, I’ve heard of body artists inserting some pretty weird stuff into people (like small skull replicas). But it probably isn’t robust enough to handle the extra complex bits I’d assume you’d get with biohacking. So maybe a ‘similar framework’ but a bit more strict?

  46. Medical proffesionals aren’t obligated to implant to avoid harm, the hipocratic oath only covers directly causing harm, not indirectly. if someone is silly enough to want to put homemade electronics inside of themselves then realistically they’re on there own.

    Other than literally replacing organs, is there anything that actually needs to go under the skin? surely you can use just about any of the technology mentioned (vibrating genitals/ NFC payment cards) as wearable tech?

    1. That’s an interesting point Evelyn, most of the devices I’ve seen don’t physically need to be implanted to work, they could be wearable tech instead. I think this article might be a few years ahead of its time to be honest. Biohacking is definitely in its early days at the moment, but it is good to look to future and anticipate our problems.

  47. Something you might not have considered, biohacking animals? It could be amjor drama for animal rights as it would be so much less legally dubious than doing it to a human (not necesarily ethical though) . But yeah, scarier guarddogs, cats better at castching mice, memo taking parrots (ok bit of stretch there), the possiblities are endless! Seriously though, it does rais some issues not only with animal testing, but also their use with humans, for example, if an enhanced gaurd dog killed a tresspasser (akin to the recent drama with Richard Osman-Brookes stabbing an intruder) is it the tresspasser, the owner or the biohacker who is responsible?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43639183

  48. Apart from brief mentions, I think you’ve kind of missed a big point here. This kind of stuff could be amazing for disabled people and could help make their lives easier. Even the really simple things like pulling a card out of a wallet to pay could be made easier by just having a contactless chip in their hand. There’s a lot of potential there that I don’t think even the “biohackers” know is there yet.

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