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Mark Atwood
"Body Hacking" by Quinn Norton <quinn@ambiguous.org>
One of the talks a few days ago here at OScon, was a session called "Body Hacking". The room was crowded, the speaker was interesting, and the topic was fascinating. I know I have people here on my f-list who are into transhumanism and/or medicine. Check this out:

  • Body Mods. Where are we now?
    • mainly cosmetic, but there are exceptions
    • functional body mods vs cosmetic body mods
    • genital piercing is a functional body mod
    • does surgery count? plastic surgery?
    • what about drugs and other meds?
  • Hacking is "freedom to act your will on a system".
  • What is body hacking? "Acting on yourself, with or without assistance, to enhance the function of your body or your perceptions."
  • The Make Magazine motto: "If you can't open it, you don't own it."
  • Are we ready for First Life furries?
  • Let's do some hacking! What can you do at home today?
  • Want a sixth sense? EM field sense
    • the speaker, Quinn Norton, had this done to her
    • implant rare earth magnet into the edge of the tip of the left ring finger
    • biosilicone sheathe over gold over a rare earth magnet
    • no anesthetic, so it was "art", not "surgery"
      • legal definition. "body artists" dont need to be a surgeon or certified physician
      • yes, it hurt to implant, a lot
    • the wonders of neuroplasticity! brain maps in a new sense
    • it takes time to sink in, takes training, but it is a novel sense
    • unexpected encounters with EM fields
    • can feel running motors, live wires, spinning HDs, and phone cords
    • cannot explain how it "felt"
    • now, why am I not going to tell you how to get one...
      • the sheath breached, scar tissue, sense failed
      • needed to be surgically removed
  • there is a theme of control, but also a perception of fungible self
  • this is Artur. he has a rare tumor
    • he got a CT scan, got the cd, downloaded & ran OSIRIX himself
    • built his own body visualization images
    • had his own surgical procedure videotaped
    • you can go to youtube, search for CT scan and MRI. People post their own medical imagery
  • "The Expert Patient"
    • you can get certified as an "expert patient"
    • doctors have mixed feelings about expert patients
    • studies have been done. expert patents have better long term outcomes.
    • is there a line between a bodyhacker and an expert patient?
  • technological sensors and telemetry
    • practitioners want to track data when the patient isnt in the clinic
    • glucometer, implanted or surface
    • ovulation watch
    • hydrometer
    • brain monitoring
    • blood surveillance
    • advanced users and geeks
      • want to access and interp their own telemetry
      • want to publish their own telemetry to the net
    • High rez EEG scan and interp is now a consumer item!
      • "Emotiv" controller, 18 sensors, lots of DSPs
      • It can sense moods and emotional state
      • It can compute your facial expression
      • Will sell for about $200
      • It is game controller! There is a dev kit, it is currently closed.
        • Video games where your emotional state is an input
        • This can be interesting, if you are playing the Incredible Hulk game
      • What will hackers do with an open source version of this?
      • What will these devices makers do when toys and games expose disorders like skitzo, bipolar, depression?
  • Democratizing our bodies
    • We want to understand and want access to our own bodies, and our own data
    • Playing with this stuff is old fashioned geeky fun
    • Access to our own bodies is becoming a human rights issue
  • What counts as a sense?
    • EM senses, implanted magnets
    • direction sense, can buy a device from feelspace
    • Air Force has been playing with stuff for decades. They will try anything.
    • What about TMS? kind of a fake sense
      • transcraninal magnetic stimulation
      • there is an OpenTMS project!
      • induced mental states
    • night vision goggles
    • is the "driving scan" a sense?
  • Where treatment ends and enhancement begins
    • legally, FDA requires "pathlogize" something so can "treat" it.
      • anti-depressants, required pathologizing grief
      • stomach staples, required pathologizing obesity
    • sexual super powers
      • boob jobs
      • gender reassignment
      • sex enhancer drugs
      • IUDs
      • genital piercing
  • Slate article "The Beam In Your Eye"
    • pro athletes all get LASIK
    • Why is it that "Steriods bad, LASIK good"?
  • We've left treatment well behind
    • provigil exploding in popularity
      • prevents sleep
      • neuroprotective
      • it doesnt "feel good"
      • wakefullness and focus
    • pharmaceutical classism is coming. people who can get the drugs get ahead
    • who wants CUV1647?
      • the barbie drug. makes you tan, makes you lose weight, increases sex drive
      • we just need to make up a "disease" for it to "treat".
      • the FDA doesnt approve drugs that dont treat disease
  • But most of all, biggest deployed body enhancement is
    • vaccination
    • "every child a superbeing"
    • a century ago, EVERYONE had the childhood diseases
    • if you didnt get them, you were a witch
  • the problem is timescale
    • we used to have generations to get used to each change
    • now we have decades, at best. soon, only years, or months...
  • messing with our brains made easy
    • Mitch Alman demos "The Brain Machine". it works, its cheap
    • there is EMDR, for PTSD
      • "Eye Movement Densensitizing Reprocessing"
      • It can be done with tools and techiques you already have.
        • computer and headphones
        • bodytapping
      • effect discovered by accident
      • changes the emotional response of memories
      • clinicians know it can be used for enhancement, but refuse to use it that way
      • It can be very dangerous! If you activate a bad memory when alone, you have no way out.
  • what are we doing soon?
    • direct interface is already here and growing fast
    • coch implants, vision implants, neuro pacemakers
    • already a guy who hacked the firmware in his own coch implant
    • lots and lots of tailored drugs. phara for intellegence, emotional fortitude, sleep, wakefulness, ...
  • "Elective Home Surgery FAQ" is online
  • Rise of a "Medical Black Market"
  • Its Your Body. But Is It?
    • your medical records, can you get them?
    • procedures, what can you get access to?
    • social transgression and transgressive communities. do we really want them to be the ones learning about this stuff?
    • arbitrary access to pharma, is currently already completely arbitrary, based on which doctor you get.
  • Dying? Living? Prospering?
  • This is the next "Open vs Proprietary Debate".
  • When biotech law locks up access to genes, tests, procedures, knowledge
    • this is not theoretical, it is actual real killing people
  • This is a mess, much worse than high tech
  • Actual headline: "Meth lab in home yields 'hospital room'"
    • was used by the local uninsured community
    • cheaper, faster, more available, and more able then a "real doctor"
    • black market medicine is here, will only grow
    • even "universal health care" wont stop it
  • What do you do when medical ethics in your country don't allow the procedure that you want? Medical Tourism!
  • Should everyone have all the freedom they want? People will make themselves into people that you dont want to live with.
  • But Ethics Shmethics. People want advantages, and will get them.
    • Two options. There are NO other choices.
      • We create a non-medical free market for human alteration, or
      • Back room enhancement for the poor & medical tourism for the rich
    • Medical Classism is a self reinforcing truth. If you can afford to make yourself smarter and stronger and more able, then the wealthy and privilaged really ARE smarter and more able.
    • How far is too far?
      • Professional Coercion. To work here, you must...
      • Those furries again.
      • Who gets to hurt themselves?
      • What is not fair anymore?
      • What does "neurojustice" look like? When we break the metaphor of "freedom" and "choice".
    • And the question throbbing at the heart of all this: What counts as Human?

Tags: , , ,
Current Location: Oregon Convention Center, Portland OR
Current Mood: geeky
Current Music: "S3 at 37signals: Lessons Learned" by Marcel Molina

8 comments or Leave a comment
hipgnosis6 From: hipgnosis6 Date: July 27th, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I saw your previous post where you mentioned this and commented there. I took a FANTASTIC postgrad class in my anthropology coursework that addressed this in depth. It's been a couple of years, but if anyone is hot on this topic, I could share some of my insights and even my texts from that.
From: gillgunson Date: July 27th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm curious as to how genital piercing is a functional body mod, but then again, I don't think I really want to know.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: July 30th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)
The speaker drew a distinction between "cosmetic" and "functional" mods. People typically get genital pierces to change the sensation of using said organs. Since sensation is a major reason for one common use of those organs, its a functional modification.
ursuscelticus From: ursuscelticus Date: July 27th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like how gender reassignment is under the "sexual super powers" section. I wonder what my superhero name should be...

On a somewhat related note, I was reading an article just a few days ago about RFID microchipping, and the potential (mis)use by the government. If your body is hacked by the government, then undoubtedly there will become a market for hacking the hack (or reverse hacking?) to remove the chip. The only problem then (the article seemed to suggest) is that you would cease to officially "be." Kinda reminds me of some of those post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies where the technocracy monitors your every move, and the minute you take off your tracking device, the guys in helmets with blackened visors and big guns come after you. Personally, I would love to be wet-wired, but I think I'd be much too paranoid about who else might possibly have access to my hardware to take the risk.
docorion From: docorion Date: July 27th, 2007 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some others, just free associating in my head from my POV:

Who pays when humodification goes wrong? Can you sue your body hacker? (of course you can) Can you win? (probably; another question is 'how much can you get? You knew or ought to have known the risks of experimenting to start with). Less an issue with practitioners, but sometime soon, someone is going to sue the provider of info on some body mod. Should your insurance pay for hacking gone wrong? (There are exceptions to what insurance will pay for now, this could be added).

I guarantee you doctors will get in to this somehow, the same way hackers have banded together to make money off their expertise. This is happening already, as many docs abandon 'standard practice' for non-surgical cosmetic stuff (I have an acquaintance who has done this recently; he still does some regular medicine, but more because he enjoys it than because he needs the money. To pay the bills he injects botox into already pretty women who are just a bit older than the latest pop cutie, or injects Restylane into people who want a bump hidden or created, or want Angelina Jolie Lips, or...you get the idea).

This also opens the way for hacked human 'viruses'. At some point in the not too distant future, home gene hacking is possible, and some script kiddie (or some angry PhD) creates the World Ending Plague, or more likely an endless batch of minor plagues spanning the spectrum from annoying to life threatening. Some (probably governmental) agency will pop into being to fight this; body modification on the micro scale (bacteria, viruses and prions, assuming one believes in prions-there's still controversy there) is likely to become illegal outside the confines of approved labs, or illegal across the board. Rogue states will be the ones which allow unlicensed micromodification.

A whole bunch of SF stories just wrote themselves into my brain... :-)

That's off the top of my head. There's a lot of potential here. No telling where the potential leads, but a lot of potential.
(Deleted comment)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 7th, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
EMDR sounds amazing. In that something so simple to do, can have such a profound impact.

It's something that I thing that, if you're willing to share it, is worth writing up as a personal experience essay and then posting.
shemayazi From: shemayazi Date: July 28th, 2007 08:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey thanks - sparked at least 3 interesting conversations with my peeps.
From: dailyada Date: August 6th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fallenpegasus, thanks for this documentation of the talk. It's great to see someone else's outline, it gives me another perspective to revise from.

spacegrrrl75, I'm always on the look out for more material that could inform my work, if you like, you can write me at quinn@ambiguous.org

I'd like to clarify; I was using the phase Sexual super powers somewhat tongue in cheek, like Ethics Shmetics and Messing With Your Brain Made Easy. Mainly I was pointing out that modifications on sexuality are extreme, highly available, and continually controversial. I've gotten more trouble for that phrase than anything else in the talk, which serves to remind me that this is an area that will continue to be quite sensitive for people for the foreseeable future. I'm fairly sure whatever I put there will raise eyebrows. :) but I'll probably keep this one- it's fairly easy to explain.

Quinn Norton
8 comments or Leave a comment