Magnet Implants I: Armstrong As Icarus

This article was started with the intent to inform regarding Neodymium Implants, which can provide a person with the ability to sense the electromagnetic domain. On the surface, this seems a rather straightforward pursuit, but in the attempt to answer the most important question regarding these implants, the question why, I realized that they are far more than a novel new form of jewelry. Magnet implants represent the emergence of a new way of thinking that challenges our notions as to what it means to be human and it would be an injustice not to first explore the history, subcultures, and mentalities that have led to the emergence of magnet implants as a trend now. This article is the first of four and together they’ll provide all the information needed to make any decisions regarding the who, what, where, and when of getting a magnet implant. This first article however focuses solely on the why and along the way provides a brief overview of the Transhumanist Movement.

 

The most celebrated men and women are those who exhibit skills and abilities, be it intellectually or physically, beyond that of the common man. This is only valid, however, if those capabilities are acquired through socially preferred means. Lance Armstrong for example, won the Tour De France an amazing seven consecutive times as well as many other feats in related sports such as triathlons and marathons. Upon acknowledging the use of Epogen, his former adherents became detractors and his feats are looked upon with contempt. The means by which he achieved his many victories were not socially acceptable and his accomplishments are no longer assessed as being worthy of any merit whatsoever. Joe Public seems to honestly believe that with the right mix of performance enhancers they’d be riding right alongside Armstrong and few are willing to acknowledge that athletic doping is simply par for the course amongst top athletes.

 

The Armstrong example certainly didn’t set any precedence. In the 1988 Summer Olympics, Ben Johnson set a 100m world record of 9.79 seconds but was disqualified three days later due to urine which tested positive for a synthetic anabolic steroid. He faced public ridicule and was shamed in spite of the fact that he had just proven to be the fastest man who had ever lived. It was another ten years until this record was met and twenty years until it was surpassed. The current 100m record holder, Usain Bolt is still a mere 0.21 seconds faster. His coach, Angel Hernandez stated in a 2008 documentary,“The winner will not be clean. Not even any of the contestants will be clean. There is no doubt about it. The difference between 10.0 and 9.7 seconds is the drugs.” While it’s possible that Bolt truly accomplished this without banned performance enhancers, it’s also possible and perhaps even likely that we’re seeing result of 20 years of coaches learning dope in a way that circumvents screening.

 

The line between hero and zero is as thin as the line on a urine dip stick. It seems having a personal dietician determined diet, a personal coach led training regimen, the economic means to train day in and day out in lieu of a job, and thousands of dollars worth of publicly accepted supplements isn’t seen as unfair advantage in any way. We live in a Horatio Alger era of sports where people believe any man can rise up and become the next athletic superstar with but a cheerful whistle and an open manly face.
It’s only the most despicable who would cross that line and use a World Anti-Doping Code prohibited substance.

 

On the other hand, the very same mechanisms which are frowned upon and penalized in sports are totally acceptable for those who are only hoping for the abilities of an average human. Androgen analogs aren’t bad as long as they’re prescribed to a man whose body produces less than the average, but is banned in sports related to it’s role in muscle growth. Growth Hormone is prescribed for children of short stature, but is decried as unethical for athletes because of unproven claims it improves performance. Epogen is prescribed to those suffering from anemia, but illicit amongst athletes as the boosted production of red blood cells are advantageous for runners and cyclists . Even beta-blocker medications such as metoprolol which are used in the average man to treat hypertension are banned in Olympic events related to it’s ability to decrease anxiety and prevent shaky hands. The use of these substances are widespread and only frowned upon if used in the hopes of abilities beyond that of the average fellow.

 

 Condemnation of those striving to be something more than merely human is ever present; examples exist throughout all of history harkening back into antiquity. Perhaps the best example of this can be found in a comparison of the Greek myths of Pelops and Icarus. Poor Pelops was killed and cooked by his father and served to the Gods. Upon realizing what had happened, Demeter had Pelops resurrected and replaced his consumed shoulder with an ivory prosthetic made by Hephaestus the god of blacksmiths and artisans. Pelop’s prosthesis was good; to be restored to the functionality of an average schmoe is a gift from the gods. Icarus, in contrast, strove too far and undeservedly flew too high. His joy in being more led to his demise. The problem wasn’t simply that Icarus achieved great heights. Much like society today, the Greeks worshiped their heroes. Icarus, however, used a means which wasn’t acceptable and thus deserved his fate. An unapproved device or substance which raises one above the average is worthy of only condemnation and shame. I find this perspective exceedingly strange, but it comes as no surprise that the history of prosthetics and implants consists primarily of devices to restore lost abilities rather than augment or create new abilities.

 

A Visual History of Prosthetic Limbs and Implants
The following galleries are meant to show how prosthetics have developed over time. These have been arranged in a loosely chronological order with one major exception: the last image. The reason for this discrepancy will be discussed further in the blog. The criteria to keep in mind when considering these prostheses are degree of technological innovation, aesthetics, and how beneficial the augmentation provided would have been for the recipient. The degree of technological innovation is of course a major factor. Prosthetic legs, for example, originally consisted of little more than the limb of a tree and as a result we find examples dating back to ancient Egypt. Aesthetics are also an important consideration in that those with a prosthetic were most often the rich and powerful. Our first image, the ancient Egyptian toe served more to improve one’s appearance than to enhance ability. In terms of how beneficial a prosthetic was to its recipient, it’s interesting to take note of how at odds this criteria can appear against the others. The simple medieval wooden leg lacks aesthetic appeal and isn’t much of an improvement over a piece of firewood. The difference it made in the life of its wearer though was still far greater than the difference in benefit provided by the most modern of hand prosthetics.
The Gallery of Prosthesis and Implants
Fifth Egyptian Dynasty Prosthetic Toe (2750-2625 B.C. )
Earliest written description of a Prosthetic – Herodotus (500 B.C.)
Roman Capua Leg (300 B.C.)
Medieval Wooden Leg (1180)
Józef Longin Sowińskis Wooden Leg (1812)
Ottobock C-Leg (1997)
Flex-Foot Cheetah Carbon Fiber Running Blades  (2006)
Götz of the Iron Hand (1504)
Iron Arm  (1600)
Woman’s Prosthetic Hand (1800)
Victorian Prosthetic Arm (1850)
The John Hopkins Arm – with neural interface 

(Still in development)
Deca Luke Arm (2014)
Multiple Attachment Hand (Source Unknown)
The next gallery spans a much shorter period of time. The first image is a mere sixty years old. These are implanted mechanisms and as such depend far more on the level of available technology than limb prostheses. It’s important to note that the “technology” being discussed isn’t merely incorporating the ability to make electronic devices, but also the biological knowledge needed to implant such devices without rejection occurring.
Kuntscher Nail (1939)
First Artificial Heart Valve (1952 )
First Artificial Heart (1969)
First Implantable Pacemaker (1958)
Auditory Brainstem Implant (1979)
Cochlear Implant (2002)
Vagus Nerve Stimulator (1997)
Cortical Stimulation Pacer (2008)
Kevin Warwick’s Project Cyborg (2002)

 

Out of the above tour of history it’s fairly obvious how the last image of each gallery differed from the others. Amongst the leg and foot prosthetics, the Flex-Foot Cheetah carbon fiber running blades stand out in that rather than simply giving a person the ability to ambulate, they store kinetic energy more effectively than a normal biological foot providing enhancement over the un-augmented. The last image in the hand and arm prosthesis category is the multi-attachment arm. It’s also unique because it provides abilities to its wearer that a normal human hand does not. These abilities may seem rather trivial but remember at a poorly planned gathering, the corkscrew-handed man is king.

 

Regarding the implants, I think it’s fairly obvious that Kevin Warwicks’ implant violates the “thou shalt not” of seeking enhancement beyond our organic baselines. In his research project called “Project Cyborg,” Warwick underwent the surgical implantation of a 100 electrode array which interfaced with the median nerve of his arm. From Columbia University, he used the implant to control a robotic arm at the University of Reading half a world away. Furthermore, the implant allowed him to “feel” what he was doing via sensory feedback. In 2004, Warwick’s wife received an implant of her own in what can be seen as the first technologically mediated form of telepathy. Kevin and his wife linked their nervous systems and communicated albeit in a very limited way.

 

The Current State of Transhumanism
As we’ve seen, there has always been enough Luddite sentiment to prevent rapid leaps in progression of human ability unless the methodology played by accepted rules. Everyone’s happy that agriculture has allowed for specialization, but we’re moving into an era where a large enough segment of the population isn’t content to wait on the slow-turnings of the social wheel. The Transhumanist movement is a loose-knit multinational movement with rather ambitious set of aspirations “acronymized” as SMI2LE by none other than Dr. Timothy Leary. The psychedelic and cognitive science roots of the Transhumanist movement are absolutely fascinating. The topic warrants an article of oceanic depth if not a series of books; however, it’s outside the scope of this article and we’ll instead take a rather superficial water-strider scurry around the edge of the pond of now.

 

SMI2LE is the shortened form of Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, Life Extension. Although these goals don’t encompass all the hopes of transhumanism in form, I’d say it does in spirit. Sure, “life extension” has become “uploading into a computer” for some and many focus on increased physical abilities rather than “Increased Intelligence” alone, but overall SMI2LE is an effective explanation of what Transhumanists aspire to.

 

The technology and infrastructure which may facilitate Space Migration has and continues to grow at a radical pace. This growth and development is largely invisible to the majority. As of 2014, there are a total of four space stations in Low Earth Orbit. Few are aware that two of these of stations were developed by Bigelow Aerospace, a private corporation. Space exploration and exploitation is on the verge of a divorce from politics and government. While there are some seriously valid criticisms regarding capitalism, one can’t deny it’s effective at making things happen cheap and fast.
Bigelow Aerospace is an American Startup developing privately owned space stations. Founder Robert Bigelow is owner of the hotel chain Budget Suites of America. The first space hotel will undoubtedly be a Budget Suite.
In 2004 Scaled Composites won the Ansari X-Prize, a 10,000,000 prize for being the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft. The craft was SpaceShipOne, a sub-orbital air-launched spaceplane. This first private launch occurred at the Mojave Spaceport mere miles from where the last Space Shuttle landed and was retired. Since this first private flight, Scaled Composites has teamed up with Richard Branson’s Virgin Group to form “Virgin Galactic.”
Virgin Galactic is the developing commercial spaceflight company associated with Branson’s Virgin Group.
Virgin Galactic’s launch system consists of a jet-powered aircraft launch platform that first carries the spacecraft into the upper atmosphere. The craft is then then released and fires it’s hybrid rocket engines to escape the atmosphere.
As of 7/2014, Virgin Galactic has performed more than 30 test flights of their SpaceShipTwo, including three rocket powered flights. Commercial services are scheduled to begin before the end of 2014. There’s little doubt that Virgin Galactic will be the first company to provide private commercial space flight but it’s certainly not the only company with such goals. Since the launch of SpaceShipOne, over 30 corporations have formed which hope to provide commercial space services within the next decade.
While developments in Space Flight does tend to occur under the umbrella of a multi-billion dollar corporation such as Virgin Group or Bigelow Aerospace this is only a tendency and not a rule. In the rush to make bigger, better, cheaper rocket ships the small stuff often falls through the cracks. In this case small, as in the 2.5cm Tenebrio Molitor Beetle. T.R.E.D. Laboratories is a startup with the long term goal of “ conquering the scientific and technological hurdles of utilizing mined Asteroid and non-Terran planetary strata for the support of exoplanetary agriculture.” T.R.E.D. hopes to achieve this goal by harnessing the abilities of the inhabitants of the undergrowth. By developing engineered microcosms, T.R.E.D labs is hopes to create regenerative systems through which to process wastes and provide for the needs of inhabitants and passengers. Organisms being researched range from unicellular algaes to the carrion loving black soldier flies. Although the organisms may not appeal to everyone, at a certain distance from Earth carrying all of your needs becomes an impossibility.
TRED RESEARCH LABORATORIES
Through research in Bioregenerative Life Support Systems, Isolated Agrulculture and Astroecology, TRED seeks to shatter the old preconception that the age of settlement is some fantasy reserved for a future never to be seen as practical reality. (T.R.E.D)
I have a lot of interest in space flight but as of now it’s really the least “transhuman” goal of Leary’s SMI2LE. Organisms adapt to best suit their environment and I acknowledge that in the far reaching future space flight will likely be the aspect with the greatest impact on human form and function but as of now the major developments in Transhumanism are occurring right here at home.
H+ Magazine is the publication of the Humanity +, an international organization that explores and advocates for the development of technologies that will enhance human capacities. The magazine is a free web-zine and a great way to keep abreast of developments of interest to transhumanists.
Many transhuman subcultures are focused on life extension. Foremost of these groups is the SENS Research Foundation which funds and participates in research hoping to “repair the damage underlying the diseases of aging.“ Of all that has come out of SENS perhaps the most important is that underlying perspective: Aging isn’t a normal, natural, and acceptable outcome. Aging is a disease and as such we should be pursuing a cure. Some believe that the cure for death is near. SENS Chief Science Officer Aubrey De Grey gives a 50/50 chance to the idea that the worlds first 1000 year old human has already been born. Then again, when antibiotics were first discovered and employed many believed that all human diseases would be cured within a single life time. De Grey’s claim may be overly optimistic but it’s a fascinating idea.
SENS Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that is transforming the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.

The research SENS funds at universities around the world and at it’s own Research Center uses regenerative medicine to repair the damage underlying the diseases of aging. SENS goal is to help build the industry that will cure these diseases. (SENS)

While all life extensionists hope for a cure for aging some feel it prudent to hedge their bets. Cryonics fills this niche. Many transhumanists are either advocating for or actively researching methods of cryopreservation. Although there are now a number of different companies available, the longest running and most widely known cryopreservation service is Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which provides people with options for a full body freeze or for the more thrifty.. head only. The idea is of course that at some point in the future the science will exist allowing people to be thawed, brought back to life, and then cured of whatever ailment originally caused their death. The science behind cryonics has developed rapidly over the last 20 years but there has never been a single example of animal more complex than a round worm being cooled to the temperatures used in cryonics and then being brought back to life. Cryonics remains the Pascal’s Wager of transhumanism.
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is the world leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology. Cryonics is the science of using ultra-cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so. Alcor is a non-profit organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona, founded in 1972. (Alcor)
Now, you might have noticed that I went out of order in terms of SMI2LE. We’ve already explored what’s occuring in terms of Space Migrations and Life Extension. I left what I believe to be most important for last: modification of who and what we are. Iis the portion of the acronym meaning Increased Intelligence. The form it takes in Transhumanism is so much more than the ability to score high on a standardized test. In Transhumanism, intelligence is a semiotic process incorporating far more than our computational skills; intelligence is also measured by the perceptual breadth and depth of our sensorium and our abilities to act and affect change in the world. The Gods may Fiat Lux but opposable thumbs build rockets and cryogenic tanks. Intelligence is the very creation of meaning itself. An increase in this ability depends not only on the grey matter but also the tools it uses to manifest will.
This bring us to the sub group of transhumanists called Grinders. Grinders aren’t content with lofty conversations and instead are changing the world by changing themselves.
Biohack.Me
Biohack.me is a web forum which acts as a think tank for those who wish to augment themselves now rather than waiting for corporate R&D and FDA approval. The diverse background of member and the general willingness to collaborate facilitates rapid development and implementation of projects.
An early definition of Grinding provided by the Biohack.Me Forum states, “Grinders practice functional extreme body modification in an effort to improve the human condition. We hack ourselves with electronic hardware to extend and improve human capacities.” The Grinder movement has since become far more inclusive. While electronic hardware is a prevalent modality of grinding many projects are now incorporating biological, pharmacological, and even genetic approaches. Admittedly, some of these approaches are still only talk.. no actual genetic modification has even been attempted for example (and for good reason).. but many projects have been successful and some that are currently underway appear very promising. In this article I’m going avoid discussing any of the slue of unique biohacks and instead focus on one that is nearly ubiquitous amongst Grinders: the Magnet Implant.

 

Intangible No Longer
The introductory augment for the majority of Grinders takes the form of a very small, but very powerful magnet implanted in the finger or lateral pad of the hand. Our ability to perceive touch isn’t equally distributed but rather focused on the areas of greatest importance. This focus is reflected in the structure of the parietal lobe. The most anterior region of the parietal lobe is the Primary Somatosensory cortex which is the main sensory receptive area for the sense of touch. The preeminent neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, discovered this structure through neural stimulation experiments. Penfield found that stimulation of the anterior parietal region elicited reports of bodily sensations. He mapped which parietal location coincided with which bodily area of sensation and the outline that emerged is called the sensory homunculus.
The sensory homunculus is a graphic representation of how much brain matter is relegated to interpreting sensations from each area of the body. The most densely innervated regions are the lips, the genitals, and hands. These areas are rich in cells which convert physical stimuli into the electrochemical language of neurons. There are four main types of these mechanoreceptors, each sensitive to a different type of stimulation. In terms of magnet implants, the receptor of interest is the Merkel Nerve Ending. These are the most sensitive and relay information pertaining to both texture and pressure. Merkel Nerve Endings are particularly dense in three regions: the gentials, the lips, and hands.

 

This clustering of sensory ability at the finger tips explains how the implantation of a magnet can be considered an augmentation. The magnet certainly isn’t for aesthetics. Its function isn’t as mundane as picking up small ferrous objects, although it allows for this as well. Magnet implants allow recipients to detect the electromagnetic spectrum effectively granting him or her a novel sensory modality. A magnet implanted in the finger vibrates and moves when in the presence of an electromagnetic field such as electric motors or magnetic objects. This is detected by Merkel cells which translate the movement into sensation. That’s right. These implants provide are entirely new sensation. While I’m going to try to describe it to you, if you haven’t felt it… this description is like describing red to a blind man.

 

For the first 2-6 months following a magnet implantation, the majority of grinders describe primarily a sense of either pressure or vibration in the finger. This isn’t anything particularly ground breaking as the magnet literally is either applying pressure or vibrating. The more interesting effect don’t tend to begin until after six months or so.

 

No research has been performed regarding magnet implants so little of what I’m going to say here should be taken with anything more than a grain a salt, but after a period of time the way that one perceives input from a magnet implant changes. Rather than just a gross mechanoreceptor effect, it really seems as if you can “feel” a magnetic field. Furthermore, a magnetic field doesn’t “feel” the way you’d expect. For example, we all know that magnetic fields like gravity extend into infinity but this isn’t how a field feels. The field produced by a permanent magnet feels like is has a definite skin, a boundary as smooth as polished marble, electrically charged like a wool sock, and yet totally intangible. Big DC transformers like those found in microwave ovens produce one of the most aesthetically pleasing fields, something like the fluttering of air from a folding hand fan that sends shivers up your spine. And those demagnetizers used at stores such as best buy to deactivate security tags? They buzz just like an angry wasp. If I’m not paying attention, I still jump and flail trying not to get stung. The best signals of all can be found at hospitals and clinics. Working as an RN, I’m a connoisseur. I stroll through radiology departments imbibing fields like stinky cheese and fish eggs.

 

Aquistion and Implantation

 

    Acquiring and implanting a magnet isn’t as simple as it would seem. The next three articles will address the main difficulties invovled: Choosing the appropriate shape, type, and size of magnet with appropriately biocompatible coating, the proper tools and supplies to perform a precise and aseptic implantation, and the implantation procedure itself. Choosing the right type of magnet is important simply because placing a substandard Alnico horseshoe under the skin simple won’t provide the sought after ability to sense magnetic fields. Having the right coating is even more import. The best case scenario for a failed coating is rejection and the worst is mild case of heavy metal toxicity. Failure to use precise and aseptic technique can provide exactly the opposite of what a Transhumnist seeks: a loss of function rather than augmentation. In fact, the easiest and perhaps safest method of acquisition is to have one implanted by a body modification artist.

 

Saampa Von Cyborg is a Finnish body modification artist and owner of Mad Max Tattoo and Piercing in Tampere, Finland.
Cyborg is consider one of the preeminent body modification experts world-wide and was amongst the first to experiment with magnet implantation.
Contact: voncyb.org
Likely the most well known artist performing magnet implants is Samppa Von Cyborg who seems to have been the innovator behind implanted magnets. Cyborg is famous for pushing the boundaries of body-modification. He was trained by a surgeon and has a rather length list of firsts including flesh stapling, flesh coiling, and flesh plating. Cyborg is also involved in performance art events where he passes various sharp implements through his body and bodies of others. I’ve heard that Cyborg sells his own magnets for implantation but I haven’t been able to find the specs or cost.
Steve Haworth is major innovator in the the body modification community. He is listed in the Guinness World Records as “Most Advanced Body Modification Artist”, 1999 to present.
Contact: Stevehaworth.com

 

Amongst Americans body modification artists few are as celebrated as Steve Haworth. The cost as of the time of writing this article for a single implant was 200$ through Haworth, which includes the cost of the coated magnet itself. The magnets used by Haworth are N52 Neodymium Iron Boron magnets first coated in gold and then a layer of silicone. Those specs might not means much to you now, but they’ll be discussed in detail in the second magnet article. Silicone is rated as acceptable for implantation but one can do better both in terms of coating and magnet design. Haworth is involved in a number of other interesting pursuits such as “body suspension” which is essentially a modernization of a ritual performed by the “Mandan,” a tribe indigenous to North Dakota that would hang its young men on wooden skewers.

 

While Haworth and Cyborg are the most well-known, they are far from the only modification artists who perform magnet implantation. A list of body-modification artists who perform such procedures is available on the site Biohack.me.

 

Now, there is another option. A different path from having someone with experience and the prerequisite knowledge perform the procedure. There are those foolish enough to want to do this for themselves. Let me emphasize here that I’m not suggesting or in anyway promoting that someone performs an implantation on themselves but for informational purposes I’m going to write the last two articles in the form of an instruction manual. To be clear, the list of things that can go wrong are far too long to even list here. My inspiration for writing up the step-by-step style of article is watching video after video online of people using hobby knives in their kitchens to implant internet order magnets with dubious coatings. A poorly performed procedure in an unclean environment is just begging for infections and rejection. One aspect of the Grinder community that’s changed over time is it’s approach towards safety. Some of the early Grinders bragged about putting objects coated in hot glue and Sugru in their bodies. This type of risk taking may have been cool in 98, but the Grinder community now advocates for the use of safe and proven equipment, coatings, and procedures. While normally very inviting, open, and willing to educate, the quickest way to being dismissed in the Grinder community is the use of unsafe materials or technique. The net has opened up access to all the materials and information one would ever need so there is no excuse for incompetence.

  

The Question Why

 

Outside of the Grinder community I don’t really advertise the fact that I have magnet implants. The few times it’s come up I’m always confused when people ask why. Why would someone want a magnet implant? After explaining about sensing magnetic fields I assume it all makes sense to the person, but then they repeat the question. Why? Now, I could try to provide some function that justifies a magnet implant. I’ve heard of electricians who claim to have gotten a magnet to prevent being shocked by a live wire. I really don’t buy it. The reason for a person wanting to be able to detect magnetic fields should be self-evident. How can a person not be curious? If someone could give you a candy with a completely unique flavor you’ve never sampled wouldn’t you want to taste it? If a person could show you a color you’d never seen before, wouldn’t you want to see it? In 1924, George Mallory was asked why he would want to climb Mount Everest. I seriously wonder about the tone of voice in which he answered, “Because it’s there.” Perhaps this is what sets a Grinder apart. I for one can’t conceive of a life so vanilla that I’d ask, “why would you want to know or experience something new?”

 

If forced to provide a more logical answer than “because it’s there,” the reason I believe a magnet implant to be worthwhile harkens back to the Iof Dr. Leary’s SMI2LE. A significant component of intelligence as defined as our ability to create meaning is rooted in our sensory abilities, and as such I believe the introduction of an entirely new modality or new set of modalities may be the key to unlocking entirely new ways of thinking. Cutting oneself and putting a little magnet in the resultant hole is a small act but never in the history of man have we been able to experience an entirely new sensory modality. Telescopes extend our vision to the most distant stars and microscopes allow us to visualize the very substrate with which our grand universe is built, but a magnet implant will allow a person to perceive the angry screams of the electromagnetic security pedestals at the entrance of Best Buy.

 

There is an old philosophical exercise which admonishes us to contemplate the nature of chairs and tables. What makes a chair a chair and a table a table? Obviously, it can’t be the number of legs or the mere presence of a flat spot for setting objects. It’s not the function, as a table doesn’t become a chair if sat upon. A chair without a cushion is still a chair, right? Implants and prosthetics provide a quite similar quandary as to what it means to be human. If I have prosthetic limbs, am I still human? What about a prosthetic heart? How much of my brain need be electronic before I am no longer a man? It’s interesting to ponder. The outcome of mankind is similarly interesting. Will mankind divide into Eloi and Morlochs or will a comet hit us first? These are certainly fun mental exercises but too many are content to stop there. Too many remain in their armchairs thinking.

 

Some, specifically Grinders, choose to be the future. This may seem an overly grandiose statement as we really are just talking about a magnet, but feeling the electromagnetic spectrum is something that the non-augmented humans can’t do. In fact, it’s something that the non-augmented can’t even truly imagine. I can describe the stars seen through a telescope and any new flavor is something like chicken but those who haven’t experienced a magnetic field for themselves completely lack a point of reference. Magnet implants provide us with the means to sense something previously invisible and abstract. It’s likely not even as useful as having a bottle-opener hand, but I can carry a bottle-opener in my pocket. Sensing the electromagnetic spectrum, actually feeling it, is something that no external device can provide and as such, this is an augmentation worthy of consideration.

 

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Jeffrey Tibbetts is a researcher with SFM, an independent team dedicated to making the tools and resources of science more available to the layperson. For more information go to Scienceforthemasses.org