Thursday, July 26, 2007

OSCON: Body Hacking

I'm in Quinn Norton's talk on body hacking and functional body modification. It looks like O'Reilly have toally underestimated how popular this was going to be, it's packed, forget standing room there isn't breathing room.

Quinn Norton talking about body hacking

You are the platform...

This isn't going to be your average OSCON talk, there will be warnings on the slide before if there is going to be blood on the next slide. I've been trying to keep this blog safe for work, so we're going to have to see how much of this I can actually blog.

So what is body hacking? It's "...acting on yourself, with or without assistance, to enhance the function of your body or your perceptions". Stealing Make:'s motto,

If you can't open it, you don't own it

Update: She's talking about getting getting a rare earth magnet embedded inside one of her fingers, near a nerve bundle, to allow her to actually sense magnetic fields. The key factor here is neuroplasticity, allowing parts of your brain to repurpose itself. As time went on she could could sense live wires, spinning hard drives and phone chords.

It's like sticking your hand inside an ultrasonic cleaner

But then, "..who has actually done that?".

Update: Now she's showing us why you don't want to do this, shortly after she had it implanted the sheathing around the magnet breached and bad things happened.

Update: She's talking about Amal Graafstra who had an RFID chip implanted in his arm, and about how there is a theme of control.

Update: Moving on Quinn is talking about CT scans and using the the available open source software to take control, and about the UK expert patient programme, which I hadn't heard of before. She's arguing that there is a fine line between expert patients and body hackers. For instance; glucometers, blood surveillance, brain monitoring and reading all of this live to the internet.

Update: Apparently there are now consumer EEGs coming onto the market, and these are at the point where you can actually figure out facial expressions and emotional responses. This is pretty amazing stuff.

Update: Interesting, she's talking about experiments with a directional sense, integrating a GPS and a buzzer allowing you to always know where north is, comments from the audience indicate that the US airforce have been doing this in their flight jackets since the sixties.

Update: Interesting stuff here Provigil is a stimulant that lets you not sleep. But there is no downside as the side effect profile is minimal. You still want to sleep, and you still feel like you want to, but unlike normal you can actually still function while in sleep deprivation. Then there is CUV1647, which gives a tan, makes you loose weight and increases your sex drive. The company that's made it is desperately looking for a disease, because you can't get a drug approved just because it's good for you.

Update: So whether we call it enhancement or treatment matters for social acceptable, but doesn't actually reflect on the procedure itself. The problem with this is time scale, we used to have generations to adjust, now we have decades at best.

Update: Best quote of the day perhaps?

Amateur brain surgery, sounds like a bad idea...

Update: She's closing out with "the next open vs propriety debate". Apparently there is a gene which can be used to test for breast cancer, but the gene is patented, so there is only one company in the world that can do the test and they charge US$1,200 and the test has to get mailed to Utah to get processed because that's where the only lab that has a license is located.

Update: The question she's asking is "How far is too far?" and "What counts as Human?".


  1. "The company that's made it is desperately looking for a disease"

    They could send out emails to people at random asking if they would they like to be cured of being fat, white and impotent.

  2. CUV1647 is best known as melanotan (one) "afamelanotide" (it has zero sexual effects). There is a forum that has been in existence since 2004 where members have been "body hacking" themselves to be tan with this Melanotan (one) peptide and it's more potent brother, Melanotan II (this is the one with sexual effects).

    This forum is found on this site:

    There's some rather impressive images of folks from before and after their usage of these peptides.

    There's videos about these peptides as well on Youtube:

    Melanotan videos

    The following Wikipedia article has some rather extensive info on the melanotan peptides especially in terms of the clinical trials that have been done with the peptides:


    Cheers, more power to "body hacking"!


  3. "expert patient programme" I just check this site. And it is really very help ful but body hacking can't be easily understand for a common man.
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