Biohacking: More human than human
Think hacking technology is cool? What about hacking our bodies?
Welcome to the wonderful world of biohacking.
Of course hacking ourselves is nothing new. People have been modifying their bodies as long as… well… we’ve been people. Cosmetic improvements like tattoos and piercings — there’s evidence of tattoos dating back to 6000 BC. And, later, technology allowed us to improve how our bodies work with correctional devices like contact lenses and artificial hearts.
But now that tech has gotten so much better — is expanding at ridiculous rates — it’s opened up an entire DIY movement of people biohacking their bodies to take themselves to the next level.
There’s the ones we’ve heard of like Tim Ferris who, through great experimentation on his own body, has hacked himself to achieve things like extreme fat loss, elite levels of physical fitness, and (duh) perfect sex. And Dave Asprey who’s biohacked his brain to increase his IQ by 30 points!
Other biohackers are taking this even further, fundamentally augmenting their bodies with technology:
Rich Lee implanted invisible headphones into his ears. By embedding small magnets directly into the flesh outside his ears, he then built built himself a device he can wear around his neck to cause those magnets to vibrate and produce sound. Now, he can listen to music without headphones. Neat! Even cooler, he can hook up a directional mic (that he could disguise in something like a shirt button, very double oh-7) to achieve super-human hearing — allowing him to hear conversations from across the room.
Paul McCarthy used a 3D Printer to create a prosthetic hand for his son. Sure, he could have purchased a prosthetic hand from a healthcare provider. For $20,000 (!!). And then continually bought new ones every year as his son grew. OR… wait, let’s see. He could print it himself with a 3D Printer for right about $10. Son grows? No problem, just print a new one. Also, the 3D printed one… way cooler.
And then there was the colorblind man who built a head mounted camera and bone-conducting audio device to allow him to perceive colors as sound. Neil Harbisson is an artist who was born completely colorblind – only able to see in black & white. Now, says Harbisson, “Whereever I look there’s music. Going to the museum, I can listen to an Andy Warhol, I can listen to a Picasso.”
More human than human, that is our motto. (thank you, blade runner)
Want to get involved in the biohacking movement? Check out:
- Biohacking 101 – a series of posts on getting started with self-experiments
- Biohack.me – a forum and wiki for the biohacking community
- DIYBio – an organization dedicated to making biology an accessible pursuit
- Move Over Hackers, Biohackers are Here for more info, including some of the more prominent biohacking labs and communities