Science

Transhumanism on the Cheap, and For the People

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Don't let them implant you with an RFID chip–Do It Yourself, as an H+ Magazine-profiled "idiot in the name of progress" did, and see great results now!

I bought my first Swann-Morton scalpel online, scrubbed the cleanest bathroom we could get with household bleach, settled myself cross-legged over the bathtub with my spotter, and poised the blade over the Biro-ink line I'd drawn for guidance. For a few minutes, I doubted whether I'd even be able to do it — cutting yourself open is not something we're adapted to be good at…..

It took a few weeks to heal, and when it did, with some help from my local gurus I was able to program a cheap open-source Phidgets RFID reader to recognise the chip's hexadecimal ID….. The chip works with any homebrew RFID project….You want a laptop tracking system? A door that only lets you in? A safe that won't allow keypad input if you're not next to it? All you need is an ampoule (you get five for a euro, the last time I checked), from any RFID hobby place, a cheap reader, and a touch of disregard for risks….After the RFID op, I acquired another implant that works with EM fields, the neodymium-60 nodule pioneered by Steve Haworth.

The implants sit in various places under my skin: middle fingertips of my left hand, back of the right hand, right forearm — tiny magnets, five or six millimeters across, coated in gold and then in silicon to isolate the delicate metal from the destructive environment of your body….When implanted, they become technological sensory organs…..

After a while, you don't notice anything novel about this at all. Building computers, you pick up screws that have fallen down into the motherboard with one fingertip and stick them on the back of your wrist for safekeeping. You know not to touch the board when it's powered, because your hands can "see" whether it is or not, just like you can see whether the hard drives being tested on the machine next to it are actually being written to or not. It's just like any other sense, except that this one can be given to you for the price of a node, a needle and a bottle of antiseptic. A new way of seeing the world, all for about fifty euros. There's nothing stopping you except your own sense of self-preservation.

Our own Tim Cavanaugh attends a transhumanist conference for us, and lives to transcend it.