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109: Cyborgs

current incarnations of tattoos…. So today, we’re going to talk about something that some argue is on level with tattoos, just more technological. Wearable tech is a big thing right now, but some think it’s merely a stepping stone to something more – embeddable tech. Even before computers became a thing, there was the discussion of creating human-technological hybrids. The movie Metropolis was one of the first times this was cinematically explored, and it’s a theme that continues to be explored in a variety of media. I’ll admit that I tend to think of Locutus of the Borg when thinking human-techno hybrids but it goes beyond that.

There are modern-day “biohackers” doing this already — beyond the FitBits, Google Glasses, and external wearable tech that continues to develop. Biohackers are even going above and beyond pure medical research, designed to look for a way to help individuals paralyzed or otherwise immobilized find a way to communicate again. In the medical realm, in 2004, one research group helped a locked-in patient gain the ability to move a computer mouse with his brain, creating a way to slowly type out messages.

While the medical advances are dramatic, and slowly coming, as with many technologies created for accessibility, it’s the consumer-level applications that have the most financial promise. Which is why the question becomes – would you get an implant? Currently, that may be a DIY proposition, but in the next few years it may not be. A FitBit style tracker under your skin? A pair of Google Glasses that are contacts instead? How about magnets implanted in your earlobes in a way they act as bluetooth headset and speakers all in one? A hackers done that. A tattoo that changes colors? Sound far out? These all already being done by hobbyists, with an eye towards commercial implementation. They might have medical use, or it may simply be for aesthetic purposes.