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Why Don’t You Go Hack Yourself?

Group 59

In March 2005, Amal Graafstra had implants in his hands and used it to access his home, and open car doors. 2013 saw the launch of a biohacking company “Dangerous Things” by Amal.

To this date, 10,000 people are estimated to have chips implanted. Spreading like wildfire, the movement promoting the merge of biology and technology to liberate life’s inconvenience is ever-growing. However, a split is seen associating the ‘scientific revolution’ with a dystopian vision of the future where we end up destroying ourselves or become slaves to technology.

If scientists don’t play God, who will?

Despite the vast majority of support gathered on the integration of evolution and science, some argue that digital world augmentations leading to Transhumanism, is nonsensical. However, bringing a digital identity to the real world where thermostats can be adjusted and doors opening with a flick of a finger is a cybertronic emergence and honestly, sounds extremely commodious, en-route to the human race becoming ‘cybernetic organisms’.

While some gaze upon ‘biohacking’ as bending God’s will, it can be argued from the egoistic viewpoint that self-interest is the most prized commodity and aims to gain respect from others for being ‘superior’. The theory prioritizes pursuing your own happiness, only to have a positive knock-on effect to society thereafter. Dissecting this issue through egotistical ‘retinal-implants’, one can proclaim that self-validation would be the highest order and strive towards becoming ’unique’. Basically, we don’t condemn people for using glasses to see better. So why should we disharmonize implanting RFID chips in ourselves to open doors and unlock smartphones to streamline the notion of everyday life?

People usually feel threatened by those who are not of the ‘norm’, but who or what exactly defines the norm? Especially when evolution beyond human limitations is vastly being researched everyday with millions of taxpayer’s money being spent on it. Undeniably, ‘biohacking’ is deemed ethically permissible as it’s neither ethically obligatory to have implants, nor is it ever wrong to have surgery of any form.

When the greatest gift is life itself, bio-hacking sets out to eliminate human ailments and increase life expectancy.  By acutely monitoring human physical and biochemical processes via microchip implants, vast scientific literacy may be yielded and interpreted by doctors, GPs and individuals. To illustrate, in an emergency, historical data prior to a patient losing consciousness may be retrieved and acted upon, saving precious time, reducing the likelihood of fatality. Therefore, from a utilitarian perspective, the cumulative happiness inherent of increased human race longevity and becoming the absolute best versions of ourselves is phenomenal relative to the ‘minor’ incurred negativities.

With respect to global economy, the synergy of enhanced physical, intellectual and psychological capabilities will have a profound boost on labour productivity in manufacturing sectors. Future prospects include managers monitoring the positioning of employees in team activities, minimising downtime, ultimately reducing cost per unit. Also, craftsmen might possess integrated lasers to judge angles, distances and geometries.

Intrinsic human nature is to move forward, develop and evolve. Applying hedonism, the ideology that all other emotions are merely instrumental relative to pleasure, the argument for bio hacking implementation is tremendous. When aligned with capitalism, it has the power to battle poverty in developing countries, simultaneously increasing the quality of life of all social classes.

Chipping ourselves away

Sean Bean Fully WiredUndeniably, the dawn of the first Superman movie back in 1948 drew attention towards superhuman abilities. Everyone ogles at how the likes of Wolverine or Captain America elucidates their life’s turmoil by employing their genetically and prosthetically engineered powers at the face of their enemies (literally). Paradoxically, those ‘physical enhancements’ are what caused them to be in that position in the first place. Undergoing tremendous amount of physical and mental augmentation, only to wind up in a ceaseless internal battle due to their immortality. And this is where our discussion takes us, to the health risks of ‘transhumanism’.

Implants under the skin produces swelling, bruises and temporary itching, taking about two years for the body to heal around the tag. Attempts at biological enhancements will have staph infections such as MRSA, that would cause the body to be resistant to many antibiotics. With this, ‘Dangerous Things’ company is working with professional body piercers, seeking out their expertise with needles to circumvent or reduce the infection. Though one can argue that they’re employing The Duty-Based Approach to avoid heavy repercussions from the implants, the movement is still frowned upon as it goes heavily against God’s will as ethical standards are the creation of God’s will itself. God-fearing individuals know to steer clear in the direction of transhumanism as they believe everyone is born the way God intended in accordance with the Divine Command Theory. Same cannot be said about these ‘body hackers’, who acts upon their longing for transcendence.

Health issues are not the only concern when it comes to human-chipping. While Hollywood actions movies have instilled futuristic real-time tracking devices in the form of microchips but it would need to be self-powering which is not achievable with the current technology without the implant being large. However, this is not to say that there are no security risks involved with the current chip-biohacking. Taking a step back, implanted RFID chips are actually extremely susceptible to hacking, duplication and identify theft, risking high-level security threats, primarily in the workplace.

Porter makes a compelling argument that having chip-implants is equated to carrying around your corporate badge everywhere involuntarily, making yourself a sitting duck for predators. It can be as simple as buying the person a drink, cloning their RFID via scanning and stealing their identity. While there are RF-shielded gloves, it is impractical to constantly wear them. Defying utilitarianism, micro-chip implants are a desire rather than a necessity, and so, do the needs of the few, outweigh the needs of the many in terms of securing privacy?

To hack or not to hack?

Biblical apocalyptics claim body-chipping to be the “Mark-of-the- Beast”, forecasting apocalypse. However, no government agency oversees neuroelectric interface enhancements. With the risks in mind, is hacking yourself worth it? Or is it one step further towards evolution?

66 thoughts on “Why Don’t You Go Hack Yourself?

  1. Amusing article and my interest at the topic was piqued. Surely, if the process of ‘bio-hacking’ is as beneficial as it claims to be, pain-free and easily done, majority of our population would have mindlessly indulged in it by now? At the end of the day, God made us as we are. Personally, who are we to resort to these biological electronic enhancements just because we don’t like how ‘hard’ our lives are. I for one, cannot imagine society accepting this movement. However, compelling arguments were made and the Boromir meme was on point.

  2. This certainly is an interesting topic to be discussed and certainly very applicable to current times where humanity is taking a turn to a more advanced and technological era. I believe that humans have control over themselves and are able to do whatever pleases themselves. While there would be risks involved with different parties and the safety and security of citizens threatened, there is no full-proof way of barring the advancement of such technology. Ultimately, if one desires something strong enough, one will eventually find a way one or another, in my expert view of course.

    10/10 meme

  3. “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord”

    Leviticus 19:28

    This is mentioned in the Bible. As human beings created by the Almighty God, we were instructed specifically to love our bodies. Therefore, we should not be going off modifying ourselves. The argument could be made: if we as human beings truly need these kinds of modifications, we would already be made to have this kind of modifications. It is because we should not be responsible for such ‘powers’ as the sinful natures of our being will surely lead us down the path of destruction. Heed my warning brothers and sisters.

  4. Interesting read. I personally think that a person can chip themselves all they want. Chipping one’s self comes with a risk (risk of a hacker obtaining your details) but that is already known before the user decides to chip himself. I personally feel that personal details such as home address, telephone numbers etc should never be implanted because that will almost never bring any form of advantage to the user. I feel that the chip should contain medical details such as blood type, allergy and medical history in order for it to be justifiable. If the user decides to put in personal details, it would be at their own risk.

    All in all, i personally dont think there is an ethical problem to body modification by implanting RFID as one’s action does not affect any other person except themselves.

    1. Thank you for your response!

      I agree, I think everyone should have the freedom to biologically enhance themselves if they wish. I believe the problem would arise in applications such as sports events, workplace environments and exams where people could use this as an unfair advantage, undetected. Heavy regulation would be required to combat this.

      Yes you’re right, I think implanted basic medical details are one of the predominant advantages of biohacking.

  5. I’m sorry but I think that anyone who ‘hacks’ themselves so that “thermostats can be adjusted and doors opening with a flick of a finger” needs to stop being so hacking lazy.

    “we don’t condemn people for using glasses to see better” – actually, people who wear glasses do so so that their vision is brought up to the standard of fully sighted people. Could bio-hacking enhance our vision?

    There are a number of issues here (which I suspect you wanted to cover but didn’t have space). These are:

    1. We would all like to have the right to alter our appearance, and improve our physical and mental abilities. If someone is born with short sightedness and then has their vision corrected by laser surgery isn’t this acceptable? Isn’t bio-hacking a step further down the line?

    2. Humanity strives towards a cloudy vision of an ideal future. Bio-hacking can be seen as getting to a point whereby we use our intelligence and our ability to create to further enhance ourselves. Jewellery, clothes, phones, chips – what’s the difference?

    3. Is bio-hacking restricted to the very wealthy or an educated elite?
    Does bio-hacking confer unfair advantages on the hacked? Certainly, I don’t consider someone who can control their thermostat by lifting a finger to be a threat but someone with enhanced vision, or some means of increasing their physical senses could be a threat.
    What is the most worrying bio-hacking application?

    1. There are some really interesting arguments you have brought up here. Personally, I think that the main disagreement that is against bio-hacking is its vulnerability; especially when there is personal data involved.

      In a non-biased point of view, it is true that there is nothing wrong with trying to find ways to improve ourselves, but there is a point where we have to stop and ask ourselves are we doing too much? Does implanting ourselves with microchips further lead to even more robotic modifications done to the human body in the future? Will we reach the point where we are completely controlled and literally becoming robots?

      Currently, there the risk of biohacking does not seem to have that much of a downside to it. But I believe that there are further much greater risks involved in bio-hacking than the eye can see.

    2. Bio-hacking doesnt enhance the person’s vision. It is a small tool for the individual to help them do tedious daily work and help to reduce time wastage.
      This is relatively new development as having robots such as Artificial Intelligence. However, in the future, the wealthy or educated people would want more of this kind of abilities and try to invest and develop better chips for themselves. The abilities granted by these chips are not extreme bias that the individual has a lot more physical or productivity advantages.

  6. I personally think biohackers should look closer to home to achieve their “longing for transcendence”.

    As with the vast majority of the human race; biohackers have been seduced, hypnotised, transfixed by the incessant, habitual, repetitive voices in their heads that always want more! They are living in a delusory state, controlled by their thought patterns. Their sense of self is derived from a future state they have envisioned of themselves. “I must hack myself to be able to do X”. The infers future – which is an illusion. The only thing we ever have and the only thing we haven’t ever not had is the present moment! By longing for a sense of self outside of this realm is pure mind abstraction!

    As Jesus once said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”. My interpretation of this is the kingdom of heaven is the most vast, infinite, divine field deep within oneself. By deriving your sense of self from purchased objects such as microchips, the relationship one has with oneself is strengthened; the ego is enlarged and feels empowered. It therefore becomes more difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven as there is such a vast self-constructed superstructure obstructing the light of God! Similar to a rich man that wears the finest clothes, eats the best food and drinks the best wine; happiness is being derived from the mental construct these OBJECTS provide. Again, why does a robber rob the bank???? Because they desire the mental concept they think the money will provide for them – it is not the money itself. This is a prime example of human beings seeking happiness from the wrong place – the future! re-align your focus!

    1. To truly transcend one must realise the futility of the world of form. If the entire world were the colour yellow, we would not know any other colour. There would be no red or green to compare against to recognise the yellow. Similarly, for us as human beings, to recognise the impermanence of our universe i.e. buildings decaying, people dying, relationships ending, stars collapsing, there must be something inside us that is constant and lasts for an eternity! This is the kingdom of heaven! & this is the realm biohackers should desire! No modification or enhancement will ever satisfy them as their happiness is derived from a tempory illusion! As soon as someone they know gets a more sophisticated modification, their ego will feel threatened and will want to inflate again by hacking themselves more… Thus the cycle never ends…

  7. Interesting article, with a wide breadth of arguments taken into account.
    I think the medical risks are secondary to other possible risks (after all, we accept the increased risk of infection every time we enter a hospital).
    A more ethical issue to consider is how people would afford these devices, and what would happen when a majority of people couldn’t. This is likely to happen given the capitalist structure of our society, and the fact that this structure probably won’t change before these devices are more widely available on the market. When wealthy consumers are able to use bio-implants, they will increase their physical abilities, productivity etc, which will drive the inequality between richer people and poorer people even more.
    That might be an ideal which some people buy into, and a purely market-driven economy may appear to some as the solution to fair society. I think that this is demonstrably not the case (hey USA), and improving the wealthy parts of society more than the less wealthy ones is a danger that unregulates sales of these types of devices could lead to.

    1. Interesting thought indeed about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. However in my opinion I think there is no real way to avoid this situation. This situation is already happening everywhere, for example, a rich family would be able to afford tuition services and personal tutors to aid their child to give them an advantage to do better in academic studies. There is no fault in using one’s readily available resources to make themselves better. In one sense it might make them richer, but I doubt that the poor will get any poorer unless chipping really does give such significant advantages in the future and that it is so expensive that it would be absolutely unaffordable for poorer people – which is unlikely.

  8. Will this technology only be available to the wealthy? If so the class and economic divide will continue to grow. The rich will be able to modify themselves to make them better suited for jobs and maybe jobs may start to only accept applications from augmented people.

    Elon musk is also attempting bio-hacking (http://northwingmagazine.com/2017/09/26/the-brain-heading-towards-the-future/), his brain machine interfaces are set to change what it means to be human but I’m worried we could end up in a situation like ‘Ghost in the Shell’ where our very ~souls~ can be hacked. His reasoning for attempting to combine man and machine is to make us more able to combat malicious AI should it arise in the future as in our current state we would have no chance competing with artificial intelligence that doesn’t deem us fit for purpose. Maybe we should be for bio-hacking as a self-defence mechanism.

    What are people’s thoughts on gene-hacking? We now have the tools to confidently edit our DNA using CRISPR technology but nowhere near enough money is spent on this form of self-augmentation as biological growth seems to take so long in comparison to digital. However, if we focused more on the biological we could similarly augment ourselves and cure genetic diseases in the process. Surely this would be more valuable in the long run.

    1. I’m in favour of gene-hacking for the cases of extreme misfortune. I agree, curing genetic diseases would greatly improve the quality of life for many. Similarly, current biohacking devices include cochlear implants to enable the deaf to hear and exoskeleton technology to enable the paralysed to walk. Surely gene-hacking would just be a level above this?????

      However, I fear scientists wouldn’t know when to stop after successfully combatting all diseases. Aligning myself with msg’s comment, tremendous effort would be required to regulate this technology. If this became the norm, people would be selecting their offsprings’ gender, hair colour and other prominent features i.e. “designer babies”. I fear this kind of technology would morph the human race into a deeply unnatural form.

        1. Forgive me, I have very limited knowledge in this field however, my view is that designer babies are a direct product of the thinking mind – object consciousness – humankind’s greatest hindrance. Surely humanity would lose its diversity and gradually cascade into an artificial form. Parents would indulge in certain traits and not others (people with X trait may become extinct) and I fear babies would merge into fashion trends. These requested features purely boost their parents’ ego. I don’t have children, however I cannot imagine loving one child any less than the other if one was completely natural, and the other I had selected traits off a menu – thus why bother in the first place. A deeper sense of love is apparent when we see past the rippling surface of the water and dive deep into the ocean ; ).

        2. Then there wouldn’t be any variance, everyone would be similar as the better traits are chosen over and over. What would become of indivualism?

  9. Interesting article , makes u think about what the future holds for humanity.

    I feel the authors may have omitted some major points. I can’t help but think about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007. The authors would prefer to illuminate their living rooms automatically etc. than to track their potentially missing future children!

    There is surely huge scope to micro-chip babies at birth to eliminate abductions??

    However how could they ensure the chips wouldn’t get removed?? embed them in deep places?? have a triggered location beacon when the chip was removed??

    1. Thank you for your feedback,

      I think the main issue with implanting location microchips is the technology currently isn’t sophisticated enough. You would need a battery pack of some kind that would be too large to embed under one’s skin. Current location beacon ranges are in the order of cms I believe.

      There is also the risk that someone could track people’s location, which is even more worrying.

      Who knows what future developments may hold though!

  10. Certainly a provocative article. Religion aside, a point to raise is where this would lie within the boundaries of the law and it’s intersection with class. The potential for abuse within technological enhancement lands in a dichotomy with class and power; should crimes be committed within this domain, the hierarchy of business and government could landslide into corruption. Should this be implemented within society, there would need to be law reform and training to ensure that perpetrators are not excused on the pretence that technology was to blame. Even if this technology was offered to everyone regardless of social standing, it would probably be the case that the top would remain at the top with little regard to where the law is concerned.
    With reference to superheroes, I think a more appropriate analogy would be dystopians, whether it be Orwellian, Dick or more recently Brooker’s take on the dangers of technological advancement. The enjoyment generated by such works is such that the audience can imagine that our society works in this way and see the potential dangers without reality being involved. I feel that your analogy is lost when it is considered in there is way. Let fiction remain fiction for all our sakes.

  11. Interesting read. I believe the security of the individual will be compromised. It is a human right to be able to keep thoughts and feelings private.
    However, the technology may have a benefit when microchipping children. With crimes and disappearances becoming increasingly tragic.
    Could microchipping saves life?

    1. Right now it only help individuals to achieve certain abilities which doesnt harm others, like opening/locking the door without keys or attracting small metals towards the hand.
      I’m sure there will be progress for a brighter future

    2. It is hopeful that these kinds of technology would bring about such results. Microchipping can also be a double edged sword – as it is information we are dealing with, in the wrong hands it can become threat and risk. But then again, people would only trust in something if it has been proven to be safe. However, it is also possible that a microchipping company can release a microchip that is susceptible to such threats, putting the mass at risk, for the sake of profit.

  12. To biohack, is to question and short, the future and previous successes of darwinian evolution that has proven itself over millions of years. The possibility of severe drawback of the prosperous homo-sapiens due to artificial evolution should be strongly considered.

  13. Certainly an interesting read. Good job on the topic selection! Personally, I think biohacking is extremely interesting. As potential future user, I would say that my choice to have a microchip implanted is purely hedonistic as I do think they make our lives easier. Imagine the joy; no more carrying keys or losing credit cards! Unless you lose your arm!
    However, my concerns are parallel to the drawbacks you listed in the article; what if I blow up like the ending in Kingsman? Plus, in an age when even our facebook data are not privately kept, I doubt the safety of the information held in these microchips could be kept safe. Quoting your data; 10 000 users in the last 5 years, it does seem like the public opinion on this subject is similar to mine, that we are not ready for this.

    1. A valid point. However things like security and safety of the devices can only get better with time. As this is a fairly new area with big industry potential, let us just hope that greed and profit does not take precedence over the safety of the mass.

  14. Hello, ladies & gents.

    Sorry if this is half-baked, I wrote a fairly comprehensive response to this article but the CAPTCHA screwed me over and it was lost. I’ve re-wrote two points (a little simplified) none the less.

    Areas to think about that I think you may have neglected:

    Biological inequality – the rise of the immortal, super-intelligent, super-strong elite. Novel technology such as genetic engineering, life-enhancement et cetera is expensive. The super rich are the ones that will be able to afford the medical implants, neural regenerative etc treatments. What is your average working class American, low-caste Indian etc going to be able to afford? Not what the likes of Donald Trump, Bill Gates etc are going to afford. Taking this to its logical conclusion is an alarming conclusion indeed.

    The paucity of philosophical debate on these human-enhancement topics is an issue. While humanity’s best and brightest discuss such topics behind closed doors at conferences and in literature, the rest of the world sits oblivious. imo emerging technologies such as super-intelligent AI and human-enhancement etc is going to hit us faster than we think. We need an informed public on the relevant philosophical nuisances. This will allow lobbying of government to implement appropriate legislation that stop bad things happening.

    imo bad things will happen. we r rekt.

    Keir xx

    1. I think the worry of these perks being exclusively for the wealthy is a concern that requires a lot of thought, however I think the average user has over-stated its relevance.

      If humanity were to block every piece of new technology in fear of expanding class divisions, there would be no progression. Initially when all new technologies emerge they are always expensive. Surely when computers first emerged, these would’ve initially been “reserved for the elite”, who would therefore have an advantage over the less wealthy…

      To hamper progression would diminish the advantages this technology has to offer! I think people’s imaginations are extrapolating into the far future too much. At present, this technology has vast scope to save thousands of lives + is already in practise today. The paralysed can walk via exoskeleton technology and the deaf can hear using cochlear implants. You’re absolutely right, this technology needs acute public awareness accompanied with rigours legalisation to ensure it is used in the correct fashion and not abused.

      1. Also, Bill Gates is one of the greatest philanthropists ever, who has in total donated $35 billion to charity. This man has provided tens of thousands of people with a job each of whom contribute tax revenue to society. I think people jump on any opportunity they can to denounce the rich in these scenarios, forgetting the underlying good they have done. Admittedly not everyone is Bill Gates haha – my point is not all “super-rich” individual are pure evil.

        XXXX

    2. In my opinion, cost is not such a big factor. Looking back at history, all the novel inventions be it an object or procedure has always been expensive at first. This gradually becomes cheaper as more optimisations are made. What my point is the point of all these is to enhance one’s life. What is the purpose of creating something where only a select few’s life can be enhanced over the entire world? In a profit wise thinking, it also similar.

      If the thing would prove to be very expensive and only the richest people could afford it, I doubt that a few people could influence the entire world significantly by just having better physical and mental abilities.

  15. An interesting read that opens up my mind.
    I think this might open up job opportunities in the future and it’s an innovative idea. However strict rules and regulations are needed to ensure its safety. To enable someone inserting a chip in the body allows more crimes to happen as it is easily accessible and hacked. By having a microchip in the body, the balance of the society will be potentially disrupted. The gap between the rich and poor might be even bigger and this would defeat the government and society’s purpose of trying to narrow the gap.
    Besides, by implanting a microchip one could also potentially alter any characteristic or behaviour of a person and this would result everyone having similar traits. Everyone should be special in their own way, having good and bad traits define a human being. If everyone is just wanting to be perfect then each individual wouldn’t be special in their own way anymore, life wouldn’t be as interesting and exciting anymore.

    1. That is one of the fears – leaving humanity. While the technology still seems very far away, I think it is a very possible route of outcome if we pursue this direction. According to the Bible, these modifications are rejected and I think that it is closely linked with such reason. It is argued that the action is not right simply because God commands it, instead, God commands it because it is not right.

  16. This is a very interesting read, absolutely worth my time. So grateful that I stumbled upon this. What I’m about to say is just my opinion. I believe that God created us as equal human beings, and that to be better than the others, hard work and determination would be needed. By planting a chip to improve ourselves isn’t exactly ‘hard work and determination’. As the technology is potentially very expensive, this would only make the rich richer, as they have the advantage of accessing this technology. But again, isn’t this how the society work? The rich gets richer because they have the advantage of being rich. However, did the rich get to where they are from doing nothing? I’m sure they’ve worked hard for what they possess. Hence, thinking hacking is not right because it is an advantage for the rich isn’t exactly a valid point in my opinion. Instead of trying to stop the others from becoming better, I think we should try to improve ourselves regardless of how good others are.

    1. I think what you think is completely true. However, what would we do if the ability gap just gets too big where it is impossible to compete? For example, it would be unfair to put an athlete and a person without legs to compete against each other in a running race isn’t it? But thus is the harsh reality. Ideally, the ones with greater ability would help the ones with lesser ability, but greed often consumes.

  17. This article causes a lot of distress to many people. Certainly bio-implant ownself can gain benefits compared to other individuals. Those who are not bio-implanted would be living in fear because they can feel threaten by these microchips abilities can give.

    The wealthy and educated people will take advantage among those who do not have these bio-implants. They can be bully to the society as well. This includes everyone no matter the gender or age.

    When they are more people who have this kind of abilities, the law should be emphasized to have certain abilities in the chip implants so that the poor and uneducated people can still live in less fear. The law reinforcement help in a way to prevent crime rates. Certainly having such laws still can be broken – for examples downloading musics or movies without paying them.

    1. Thank you for your response!

      Adding to your last point, I think the risk of transhuman products on the black market is worrying and something I hadnt previously considered.

  18. It’s an interesting topic, but the article really could have benefitted from input from someone with a more journalistic bent. The style is verbose, full of malaprops, inaccuracies and hyperbole. Attributions would be useful (who are these religious zealots? Do we have an ethics opinion when ethics positions are stated as fact?), along with fact checking and proper perspective (e.g. 10,000 people out of 7 billion is 0.00000001%, for which “wildfire” is an inappropriate simile)

    1. Good feedback in terms of languange and style of writing. I’m sure the group would appreciate it for future reference. With that being said, they are of engineering discplines after all. Do you really expect more ‘journalistic bent’ from people who are in the engineering field? Last i checked, this isn’t a platform for them to demonstrate their high command over English, but rather to write unobstructively and to engage the audience in a series of comments over the subject. Maybe instead of ‘condemning’ them for trying, you could channel your comments into commending them for their effort of stepping out of their usual comfort zones of technical writing and lab reports. Also, maybe try focusing on their content rather than solely nit picking on something insignificant. If perfection is what you’re after, I suggest you have a read of the other 75 articles and see how they fare better. That being said, I urge you to share your view on the topic of transhumanism itself.

  19. Interesting article. Prior to reading it I thought bio-hacking might involve copying sections of human DNA in order to help in the design of tissue engineered organs but it seems to be more about chipping people in a similar way to how cats and dogs increasingly are. A few years ago I thought there might be an increasing trend in people having ID chips fitted but I believe the fact that most people can be identified or located from their iPhone even if it’s switched off has made this unnecessary.

    1. I think that you are too fixated on just the possible tracking function of microchipping. There are a lot more applications and benefits for microchipping. For the sake of your understanding, it would be better to read around the topic to equip yourself with the necessary information to clear up your misconceptions. With that being said, I do not agree with what you have said about making chipping unecessary, even if it is just tracking. Imagine yourself stranded at sea for whatever reason: An implanted trackable microchip in your body that cannot be spoiled by the seawater might just be the deciding factor of life and death.

  20. Interesting article. The idea that this kind of forced and unnatural evolution concerns me. The utilitarian perspective is that ‘the cumulative happiness inherent of increased human race longevity and [humans] becoming the absolute best versions of ourselves is phenomenal relative to the ‘minor’ incurred negativities.’ I must wholly disagree with the proposal that incurred negatives could be quantified and labelled ‘minor’. The prospect of this bio-hacking is extremely reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. I would not be in any respect brave when entering a world in which humans ‘streamline’ daily processes through the insertion of chips into human flesh, causing long-term physical pain for the sake of having to open a door or wait for a kettle to boil. The small challenges in life are what make it exciting, and overcoming these challenges is one of many very human things that make life worth living on a daily basis. If we are to be judged on the ‘super powers’ bestowed upon us as a result of purchasing and inserting a chip into our body, where does that leave us in terms of our ambitions, goals and perspective on life? The internet of things is already creeping up as an extremely prevalent aspect of many societies, and this is undeniable, but when we start to immerse the internet within our physical being is there really any chance that we’ll be able to mentally escape the shackles of a digital dystopia?

    1. Thanks for your feedback Florence!

      I think the word “minor” was used on a relative basis, i.e. when compared to the immense joy of extending someone’s life. Imagine a close relative was out by themselves for example + had a heart attack in the street. Paramedics/doctors could retrieve their blood type and medical history instantly from an implanted microchip, increasing their chance of living

      I think the main benefits of biohacking were only glossed over, and too much emphasis applied to irrelevant points such as door opening, as you pointed out!

      X

      1. I agree as well. But what I got out of the article is that these are just some examples of benefits which can be seen currently. While it may not seem much, it may help a lot for say someone who is disabled and has trouble physically opening the door. Furthermore, I also believe that there is much more potential in this field then as just stated, and it is true that not much emphasis has been put on the benefits of these potential future developments.

  21. This article was a really interesting read, and I think it covers a lot of interesting points. The article talks about a couple of theories such as utilitarianism, egoism, and hedonism which are covered in a good amount of depth, but have you considered looking at this topic through a lens that doesn’t presume that humans are self-interested? A lot of the criticism directed at human chip implants in the article seem to assume that it is a way of improving oneself relative to other people around them. Do you think that such implants could be developed in the future to benefit society in general, rather than merely as a way of satisfying individual pleasures?

    1. Thanks for your response.

      It depends how much capabilities the chip can give to the individual. I hope the scientists who create this “toy” do consider on the benfits on the society rather than individual benefits.
      I do believe that this chip implants will help the society in the future.

  22. Very interesting topic.

    Whilst the term ‘ethically permissible’ is very vague and questionable in use, it is true that ‘one’s man freedom ends when another’s begins’, and in this regard, I agree that if someone wants to monitor their constants and nutrient-intake with a chip, he/she should be free to do so.

    So far the uses of biohacking do seem to be quite narrow and individualistic in scope, which is why I am eager to see future developments in which this new phenomenon is directed towards bigger and more challenging projects.

    Also, I wonder whether ‘the synergy of enhanced physical, intellectual and psychological capabilities’ and it’s impact on ‘labour productivity in manufacturing sectors’ will carry us to even more precarious jobs and bigger inequalities globally, or not… I guess we will have to wait and see.

    1. I too noticed that quote,

      It could go the way the authors suggest + economic growth boosts employment, however, I am very dubious as to whether this will become a reality. I think its more than likely class divisions would become even more unparallel, segregating society. ATM, I dont think our current government is capable enough to effectively roll out this technology fairly. Perhaps in the future our grandchildren may see it in their everyday lives.

  23. Fascinating topic, the more I play out the infinite paths trans-humanism could take, the more worrying it becomes.

    BP predict ~48 more years left of crude oil on the planet. I feel the world is likely to get a lot more hostile in coming decades as countries fight over resources. I think the uptake of this technology should come when the world has reached some form of equilibrium… whenever that may be… The worst imaginable scenario I can think of would be terror-related trans-humanism, which could vastly counteract the outlined benefits in the article.

  24. This is an extremely interesting topic which is a debate that I find holds particularly complicated practical and philosophical issues.
    This technology would be extremely expensive, and I would agree with previous comments that access to such life enhancing technology would bring heightened inequality to certain sections of society, which is extremely worrying. That being said, as someone who supports a capitalist society, it is uneasy for me to restrict people who have the ability and access to such life enhancing technology from exercising their use of it.
    I also reject that we are autonomous beings that are free to do as we please, so if we want to use this technology then we should be able to. This attitude is extremely harmful, and for a successful and peaceful society we must consider other people. Whilst it is dangerous to overly restrict each other, it must be accepted that we all benefit from at least minimal protection of our human rights, whether that be our right to live without torture, without being murdered or with protection of our privacy. To live harmoniously some restrictions are necessarily.

  25. Following on from my last comment: This blog raises inevitable, and important considerations of privacy. I accept the need to be wary of infringing another’s privacy. However, this debate is not limited to body chipping. In a western culture we live in a society rife with technology, and therefore rife with privacy limitations (and indeed infringements). For example, being regularly recorded on CCTV in the public domain. These technologies bring both security advantages, and privacy disadvantages. These must be balanced, and certainly regulated. Nevertheless, these are viewed as acceptable and workable to many. Surely with similar regulations body chipping could provide a similar utility. With heavy legal enforcements the concern is unlikely to be solved, but would be mitigated. If the benefits to the technology can be used to provide greater personal security in other areas, a simple risk-benefit debate may well find in the favour of the use of this technology.
    I found the references to ‘bending god’s will’ interesting. If one accepts that we are created the way god intended, then they must accept we are created with flaws and we should simply accept them and not try and alter them. I find this idea unfounded, on the basis that many of us continue to better ourselves, whether that be on a personal level with regards to our careers and relationships, or through our health. Personally, when I am unwell I go to the Dr and expect the best medical advice that that Dr has. If he or she told me that I was seriously unwell, but that was gods intention, I would feel seriously aggrieved (especially as an atheist). It is difficult to distinguish between somebody seeking highly unnatural and intrusive surgery, perhaps an organ transplant, to better their health, or somebody seeking to use technology to better their health. Many Jehovah witnesses die from refusing medical treatment, and many find this tragically sad. Whilst we are speaking hypothetically with this technology, I would find it equally sad if someone’s death could have been avoided had available technology been used.

  26. Following on again:
    I also question the comment that the small challenges in life are what makes it exciting, and I especially object that they are worth living for. I find little satisfaction in overcoming the challenge that is turning my bedroom light off once I have got into bed, and I do not find losing my keys, and finding them ‘worth living for’. However, I would also argue that these small potential advantages are not worth the aforementioned inequality and privacy concerns.
    It seems to me some of the concerns with the development of this technology are already concerns pertinent in our society without this specific use of technology. It maybe goes without saying that heavy regulation and assessment would be necessary to balance the potential advantages with the potential disadvantages but the potential of these technology is exciting and should not be dismissed on the basis of problems which can be (at least to some degree) overcome.

  27. Harvey Gill: “Very interesting topic.

    I agree with the assessment that this represents the natural and some might say inevitable extension of mankind’s desire to make life easier and longer. We have been on this path ever since early homo-sapiens began using rudimentary tools. However, I think we are now entering a period of technological innovation that is offering unnecessary solutions to problems that do not really exist. As Black Mirror has taught us, this type advancement almost always has unforeseen health, security and psychological consequences for the individual and society.

    Furthermore, as with many technological advancements, progress will often come before our systems of governance have adequately grappled with the associated issues and ironed out the kinks in the system. This point is evidenced by our politician’s inability to comprehend and respond to the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal. My scepticisms will remain of a practical rather than ethical nature, so long as this development does not infringe upon the liberty of the individual user.

    HG x”

    1. Excellent second point, Harvey.

      I agree, my concerns also lie in the practical realm. Currently I think there is a great deal of ignorance surrounding this issue; we should aim to be confident, yet diligent in our future movements. In decades to come I think we’ll have a platform of far greater rigidity to form judgements off.

  28. Really curious article.

    I am very much in favour of transhumanism. Stephen Hawking said to avoid extinction we need to colonise a new planet within 100 years. I believe adopting transhumanist technology to Martian colonisers is one strategy to greatly increase our chances of survival. We need to stop being short sighted and recognise that something extraordinary is required to aid our existence. We have far more efficient means of energy production now, compared to decades ago, however these gains are inferior to the growth in our energy appetite. As Janda 2011 said in “Buildings don’t use energy, people do” – “we were less damaging when we were less efficient”. I fear irreversible damage is happening to our planet & it’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.

  29. Excellent article, which articulately summarized the positives, restrictions and dangers of cybernetic enhancements to te human body. I especially admired the explanation of how our prevailing globalised capitalist system could utilise this technology particularly effectivevley when combating the problems of world poverty. My contention would be that I believe the future effects of what it means to be human and possible discrimination this could result in. Our modern conception of racism is a colonialist and, by that implication, recent constuct, used to justify slavery and imperialism. Forseeably it could be that a distant society may have eliminated racial predjudoce only to have replaced it with biological predjudice, in which those whose moral and religous objections, as well as financial barriers, cement them as second class citizens in a society that has been designed for and by those who have embraced artificial modification of themseleves.

  30. Very interesting, and extremely topical. I saw a news video of a man recently who implanted an Oyster card beneath his skin in the attempt to ease their morning commute.

    If you are familiar with Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, there are episodes which explore this theme. ‘The entire history of you’, where a chip is implanted and all things seen and heard are recorded with the ability to rewatch, show others, (and delete where necessary). The second episode, ‘Arkangel’, is an experimental chip implanted for a mother to track her child. There is not a happy end in either episode. In ‘the entire history of you’ the protagonist cuts the chip out his own head. In ‘arkangel’, the mother breaches any idea of privacy in her daughter’s life and destroys their relationship.

    How far can these enhancements go? I can’t fathom to think. This seems a terrifying concept, that rather than being an extension of the self such as a phone or tablet, is it in the human body.

    I’m excited to see where science can lead, but extremely apprehensive at the same time.

  31. Martijn Wismeijer, also known as ‘Mr. Bitcoin’ was one of the first people to have 2 near-field communication chips implanted into the back of his hands which allowed him to store his digital currency underneath his skin.

    Forward-thinking with both currency and implant?

  32. Generally a well-written and thought-provoking piece,

    I feel the second half could’ve been streamlined and written in a denser fashion. Also, it could’ve been strengthened by expanding the ethical dimension, rather than using generalised, descriptive comments that paraphrased sources. There were only 2 lines to develop the utilitarian defiance in the 2nd half of the article; the rest was descriptive.

    Personally, I am both excited and terrified when I envision future decades for humanity. I am optimistic about the health benefits this technology can offer, and as a scientist, I am deeply inspired by the prospect of life on Mars. Conversely, I’m concerned such technology will be almost impossible to effectively regulate. The government struggles to handle the Windrush generation – I don’t see how they could ensure our safety when we’ve knee deep in AI.

  33. Its an interesting article. Maybe one day people can become like “Lucy” just like in the movie. Though I hope they would use these abilities to help other people or less forntunate people, rather than abusing the powers.

  34. An interesting and well-constructed article. This debate between a novel and potentially life-changing scientific development with an unethical and potentially damaging societal impact appears to be a widespread concern across several developments in recent years. The fact that this technology has been successfully used is fascinating and impressive. I personally feel that the different potential uses of the microchip cannot be judged together. The use of a microchip to, for example, turn on a light switch or open a smartphone to me is unnecessary and dangerous, humanising robot-like features which might only have the potential to slightly improve convenience. In contrast, the use of this technology to provide a literacy of medical history for GPs is exciting and (if regulated) seems much more worthy and feasible. From a medical perspective, this technology could streamline and speed up healthcare processes. Indeed I would also reject the idea of retinal implants being ‘egotistical’- the consideration of this technology within a medical setting reminds me of debates concerning genetic foetal screening. However the assumption that this technology could ‘extend life expectancy’ really can only be better understood decades down the line, once sufficient longitudinal data is obtained.

  35. Interesting article. It is certainly important to address these ideas, especially given the almost impossible and uncontrollable rate at which technology is now developing. One wonders however whether perhaps humanity should concentrate on more pressing issues in technology to create a fair and equal world for everyone, before creating an easy one for those with the money to pay for such enhancements.

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