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Two pages out of H+ magazine have me contemplating…

A friend of mine sent me a link to a couple pages (PDF) in H+ Magazine… a transhumanist publication.

The first page covers the phenomenon of “self-tracking” and CureTogether, an open source health research platform where people collaboratively posit hypotheses and track anecdotal results. The “power of many” in this forum far outweigh the relative inaccuracy of individual accounts, and at the very least sheds light on possible directions for “real” medical research to turn their investigations toward.

The idea that “western” health-care could ever come down out of it’s ivory tower and be a more collaborative experience is inspiring… particularly because I have a half-finished draft of another blog post regarding my own uric acid “self-tracking” project. Once I’m done with my planned series of at-home uric acid blood tests I’ll post the results, as well as see what can be shared with CureTogether.

Magnetic Implants

Then, right there on the very next page, a guy calling himself Lepht Anonym (blog), a transhumanist, recounts his DIY RFID implant story for H+… and he very graciously mentions me. He also did what I still haven’t done yet… implanted a neodymium magnet in one of his fingertips. The fingertip is often chosen for this kind of implant because of it’s massive collection of nerves, which are able to sense even the slightest giggling/vibration of the magnet… but the fingertip is also a very utilitarian appendage, which often has to contend with a great amount of force applied directly to the “tip” area… right where the magnet would be.

I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of extrasensory addition, ever since I first heard about it back in 2005. But so far I have definitely not wanted to get what I see as a highly experimental implant inserted into something as critical to typing and my financial survival as my fingertip. Some might think that ironic, but glass encased RFID implants are professionally manufactured and have been used in pets for decades… I’d call that “fully tested” compared to the basically home brewed magnet implants people are putting into themselves.

I’ve heard of quite a few people getting these magnetic implants, and even though the process for encasing the magnets in silicone has improved quite a bit since it was first done, I still don’t think it’s quite ready for prime time. As far as I know, eventually everyone has a rupture and has to have a very skilled surgeon remove the blackened bits and pussy goo from their finger(s). Still, I’m glad these pioneers are doing what I can’t bring myself to. I’m so appreciative because I’m really just waiting for things to improve to the point where I’ll feel comfortable getting one myself 🙂

Maybe if they started looking for a way to encase those tiny magnets in bioglass (like an RFID tag) through a process where the heat of the molten glass did not extensively damage the magnet… then I might look into it… you know, after plenty of other pioneers have cleared the way first.

Am I a Transhumanist?

A while back I really thought transhumanism was all about trying to digitize your mind, shed the meat sack, and really go surfing on the interwebs… but a more accurate definition might be something like this;

Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities.

Given that working definition of transhumanism, I can’t deny I’m in that category. Not only do I love the idea of extending my own mental and physical capabilities, but I love the fact that I’m actively involved in that process… I think up my own solutions, I build the projects, I write the software, etc. Couple that with everything others are doing, many in an open source format… it really is all very exciting!

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