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Tag: biohacking (page 2 of 2)

This website was archived on July 20, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.
Exolymph creator Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Grinder Seeks Philanthropist

Contextualizing disclaimer: This dispatch is about someone who is not a “public person” in the typical sense. He solicited attention for his crowdfunding project in an open Facebook group, so I feel okay about directing attention his way. I tried to be respectful without being dishonest about my reactions.

Yesterday I mentioned grinding (also called biohacking). Today I encountered someone whose ambitions rise beyond self-modification — he wants to advance transhumanist medical possibilities on behalf of the entire human race. Voltage Muriel set up a GoFundMe campaign called Robotic Body Designs. The claimed goal is “No more health issues, longer lives, upgrades to yourself”. To be kind, that’s extremely optimistic — to be harsh, it’s grandiose to the point of delusion. “No more health issues” — at all? Really?

A grinder's workstation. Photo by Voltage Muriel.

A grinder’s workstation. Photo by Voltage Muriel.

Muriel explains his situation and intentions like this:

“Currently finishing my bachelor of science degree in electronic engineering, so I may gain the knowledge I need in order to help design an invention for all of humanity. As a dedication, I ask for donations to help with the supplies I need to design my ideas. Eventually I will successfully restore my own body using robotic technology. There will be a way to make this at no cost to all patients. I promise your donation will be used for helping the world become a better home for everyone.”

In case the GoFundMe page gets taken down, here’s a Wayback Machine link.

The way Muriel describes Robotic Body Designs is particularly interesting — his language borders on religious. “As a dedication” … “restore my own body” — these phrases echo Christian lore. I’m not sure whether English is Muriel’s first language, but if we assume that he fully understands the word “restore”, it’s an odd choice. “Restore” implies that the body’s current state is different from its original one; Muriel seems to be saying that he’ll return himself to the start. What might that be?

I asked Muriel to comment; he did not respond by press time.

Figuring Out What’s Predetermined

Image by Neil Cummings.

Image by Neil Cummings.

You can’t prepare for a future that you haven’t imagined. Of course, the future that you + me + various experts have conceived will not come true in the way that we expect it to. If future-prediction were easy, the stock market wouldn’t exist, and the economy that we’re familiar with might not function either. Lack of accurate or certain information is integral to the current system.

Consider the scarce resource. What’s hard to obtain? From the perspective of media suppliers (publishers), it’s attention. From the perspective of media consumers, especially in the business/tech sphere, the scarce resource is valuable information, the kind that can be used to make decisions or shape strategies.

Participants in abundance economies are forced to sort through a deluge of options to find what’s worthwhile. Thus media businesses like Stratechery and The Information are successful. They don’t rely on volume — they rely on significance per word (I swear that’s a genuine metric).

When we’re dealing with futurism, actionable information is difficult to identify. Most people aren’t even in a position to change their behavior based the likely trends of the next century. (Venture capitalists and other people with resources to deploy, but who else?) Near-future estimates, or insights regarding what powerful people want and expect, are more immediately useful to us commoners.

Of course, we shouldn’t let that stop us from speculating! There might be more advantage in it than I’m guessing. Besides, there’s always grinding:

“So i know that you can implant an RFID chip in your body but is there any form of security. RFID Identification information can be stolen remotely outside of the body, but does it being inside the body change its vulnerability. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and i know that the bio-hacking community has been growing for a while and that as it grows so do the dangers. Not too worried but i just wanted to know the security risks.”

Breathing Smoke; Expelling Waste

On visiting smoggy China: “Leave your lungs at home and rent some when you get there” — reddit user tankfox.

Painting by Danielle Morgan.

The above painting was made by Danielle Morgan. She is followable on Facebook and Instagram.

During my brief college foray, I had a conversation with a fellow student named Jimmy, who told me there was no need to think of the body as ending where human skin stopped. For instance, you can consider the municipal plumbing system to be a vast expansion of your digestive tract. The poop is not gone — rather, it has entered a phase of the alimentary canal that you share with everyone else in the city (or whatever region is appropriate).

Jimmy also trounced me at chess a few times.

The connection with Danielle’s painting is that the subject’s lungs extend beyond where you’d expect them to end. (I suspect her consciousness does the same.) Similarly, a tourist using a respirator in Beijing has augmented their original physical capabilities. The self cannot be separated from its physical context. We are defined by the space we inhabit.

Don’t Give My Yellow Boxes To The Robot

Neon robot via Torley Olmstead.

Neon robot via Torley Olmstead.

Good morning. Or is it morning? The global network is gummed up by time zones — maybe we should sync our cycles. I’ll won’t sleep until 3am; you rise with the grey dawn. As long as there still is a dawn. Pundits keep harping on about how climate change will impact the shorelines, but will it stretch or shrink the length of a day? I don’t know science, but this seems entirely possible. Besides, time is a construct. (Allow me to re-emphasize that I don’t know science.)

The human body is inadequate. Our biology is wedded to light levels that don’t matter anymore. Light levels should be the concern of solar panels, not self-actualized persons. Or, y’know, regular old self-loathing persons:

Robotic hair transplants via Jesse Montgomery on Twitter: “the least reassuring sign in Nashville”.

Robotic hair transplants via Jesse Montgomery on Twitter: “the least reassuring sign in Nashville”.

I visited and learned, “Not just another hair loss gimmick, PAI Medical Group of Nashville is all about the full-service approach, offering proven hair loss treatments with guaranteed results. Our committed and specialized hair restoration surgeons attract valued patients from all over the world, making PAI one of the most reputable and in-demand hair transplant practices in the country.”

If you hate yourself, you can pay a lot of money to augment an aspect of your physical self that hardly matters. Or just wait for the inevitable mutation…

Kafka joke by Dan Abromowitz, also on Twitter.

Kafka joke by Dan Abromowitz, also on Twitter.

Remember, don’t give my yellow boxes to the robot. The robot doesn’t deserve my yellow boxes.

The Bleeding Edge

This is the first missive. The first dispatch from my cold tile cave (okay, it’s just a gaming room). The cat scrambles past my feet — she is a wholly primal being, but I am halfway immersed in a networked future of distributed synapses, part of a large brain with many autonomous nodes. Yes, that’s a euphemism for Twitter.

Exolymph is an exploration of the dystopia we live in today and the one we’re building for next week. Consider it grimdark optimism.

“I have a strong personal faith in the promises of money and technology to improve my mortal existence as a meat-sack” — Nicole Cliffe endorsing Thinx period panties in The Toast

I feel it, Nicole. Meat-sack solidarity. Also, this comment by JoanLR from a thread on queer biohacking:

[…] many identities that people relate to being queer have to do with feeling out of place in your body, or with having unusual feelings about how your body interacts with other bodies.
At least in the frame of reference of trans folk, there’s also a lot of us who sort of start body-modification stemming from changing ourselves for gendered reasons? […] Additionally, there’s the whole angle of how biohacking — especially the grinder style of DIY unofficial biohacking — gives people physical diversity and changes what different individuals can do, which I feel heavily relates to the concepts of personal autonomy and the idea of being abnormal in a “fuck you” sort of way, which loops back to being queer.

New possibilities for self-definition, opened up with a scalpel. Consider the poem “Cosmopolite” by Georgia Douglas Johnson, via the Poem-a-Day newsletter:

Not wholly this or that,
But wrought
Of alien bloods am I,
A product of the interplay
Of traveled hearts.
Estranged, yet not estranged, I stand
All comprehending;
From my estate
I view earth’s frail dilemma;
Scion of fused strength am I,
All understanding,
Nor this nor that
Contains me.

I’ll be seeing you soon.

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