Biohacking and DIY Technosurgery

I’m shocked at how little news there is on biohacking, grinding, and what has long been known in the science fiction community as cyberization. The best news article is on Aljazeera America for christ’s sake.

Behold, Tim Cannon AKA the guy that keeps implanting devices into his body!

Here he is “post-op” with a magnet implanted in his finger so that he can feel magnetic fields:

And here he is pre- and post-op with a large electronic device implanted in his arm: .
It contains LEDs, a rechargeable battery, and a bluetooth temperature gauge.

The strange thing to me is not the rationale of grinders, nor the fact that such a community exists. The strange thing to me is why grinding isn’t more widespread. Cannon and fellow “grinders” point out that medical practitioners in the USA are afraid of losing their medical licenses if they agreed to carry out such procedures–even with signed zero-liability contracts. Consequently, grinders turn to piercing and tattoo artists, or themselves, to achieve their ambitions. In Cannon’s case, the answer for implantation of his Circadia device involved traveling all the way to Germany. The implantation of pacemakers, titanium hips, silicone gel, and the like are commonplace for health or even purely aesthetic reasons. Yet there is a line, which I believe is supported by next to no rational criteria, between these implants and the magnetic or electronic ones developed by grinders. Were I to hypothesize, I would say the cause of the current fear is the unknown and unfamiliar. Likely such devices developed by medical corporations with lengthy testing would not encounter so much derision.

The term “transhumanism” is often used to capture the philosophy of individuals that seek modifying the human body via technology as a positive goal for themselves and others. Once again, I don’t find the philosophy unusual but instead particular aspects of it. On the one hand, transhumanism is trivially true as a defacto consensus. Contacts, insulin pumps, pacemakers, hearing aids, smart phones, life alert key chains, RFID tags–all are technologies that enhance the human being and are essential to the livelihood of many people. Some are implanted surgically, others are not. But all in all, modern man depends upon these technologies as a necessity–economically, socially, and even medically. It is only those neo-ludites and anti-technologists who would deny that these technologies are unessential. And their numbers will grow I expect in coming decades.

On the other hand, transhumanism as a philosophy whose telos is the “Singularity” is a radicalized version of transhumanism with deeply questionable if not bizarre assumptions. Thus a differentiation based upon transhumanism alone will not be significant enough to separate two groups such as biohackers/grinders and singularitarianists (my god what an awful word). In other words, unless you’re a neo-ludite, you are a transhumanist and have been for some time.

About C.P.

Collin is a professional writer and scholar. He holds an MA in Philosophy and a BA in English literature. His philosophical work has appeared in print published by Wiley/Blackwell and Open Court. More of his writings, philosophical, literary, comic, and just plain nonsensical are available online. He currently lives in Seattle where he is writing science fiction, dressing up for Cons, and wreaking havoc on his opponents (npcs and tabletop humans alike).
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