DYI Professor Kevin Warwick In 1998 Professor Kevin Warwick

DYI Cyborgs – the Grinder Community
Implantable technologies and body
modification

Abstract
Implantable technologies are gaining
popularity. This paper aims to provide a brief insight into the
history of implantables and the emergence of the so called Grinder
community. I’ve reviewed some of the devices avaliable today, their
impact on society and how they might revolutionise smart technologies
as we know them.

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1. Brief history and notable persons
Implantable medical devices such as
cochlear implants and real-time blood pressure sensors have been
around since the first pacemaker implant in 19581, non-medical use
is still relatively new, and has only gained traction in the past few
decades. Most of the emerging applications use radio-frequency
identification (RFID) tags for conrol and convenience.

1.1 Professor Kevin Warwick
In 1998 Professor Kevin Warwick became
the first recorded human to be implanted with an RFID device. Using
the transponder, he was able to interact with the ‘intelligent’
building that he worked in. Doors automatically opened, lights
activated when he entered a room and upon sensing his presence his
computer greeted him. Warwick’s ‘Project Cyborg 1.0’ experiment
showed enormous promise for humancentric convenience applications of
RFID. 2 From that moment on, Warwick embarked on a research project
that he hoped would lead to successful communication between human
nervous systems and computers providing applications toward medical
cures 3. Warwick’s background in telecomminications also had a
profound influence on the reason why he implanted microchips into his
body: “I am historically from the communications field… For me,
it was the possibility of opening up a new communication channel”
4. His research is also helping patients diagnosed with certain
illnesses. There is a number of neural microchip implants developed
by Warwick providing benefits for spinal injury 5, epilepsyand
Parkinson’s disease sufferers, as well as a wide range of other
terminal disease sufferers 6. By experimenting with microchip
implants in his own body, Warwick is able to develop applications for
others.

1.2 Amal Graafstra

Amal Graafstra of Bellingham,
Washington, is theowner of several technology and mobile
communications companies, including an online biohacking store he
opened in 2013. He became interested in technology and the mechanics
of how computers worked. His tech-savy nature combined with the
observations he made from RFID tags implanted in pets were the
stimuli that inspired Graafstra to introduce RFID implants into his
own life. 7 He has simplified the process of hacking the body by
selling kits packed with the necessary supplies so that anyone can
embed technology into their flesh. He’s selling implantable devices
including near-field communication (NFC) chips, radio-frequency
identification chips (RFID), biomagnets, and other materials to
people who want to “upgrade their body” to be more connected to
the devices around them for easier accessibility. 8 To date,
Dangerous Things has sold several thousand implants and the client
base has expanded to a much more diverse group of people. He believes
that “The body isn’t this spiritual, sacred, mysterious vessel
anymore. And like with anything when you remove the mystery and you
look at the truth of the matter, it kind of becomes less romantic and
more utarian.” 8

1.3 VeriChip – The first commercial
implantable RFIDThe VeriChip Corporation in the United States was
established soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist strike. On
the 11th of May 2002, the Jacobs family volunteered to be the first
consumers to undergothe chipping procedure which was broadcast live
on American television. VeriChip then chose to implant some high
profile people, including Mr Rafael Macedo de la Concha (Mexico’s
Attorney General) and a number of his staff citing security purposes.
In 2004 and 2006, Baja Beach Club and Citywatcher.com respectively,
were engaged in human implantable programs on their company premises.
9
When VeriChip first launched their
product range, they had four cornerstone application contexts: (1)
VeriPay, (2) VeriMed, (3) VeriGuard, and (4) Corrections. The VeriPay
system allowed end-users the capability to perform cash and credit
transactions with the embedded implant. VeriMed was a user-driven
healthcare information portal whereby consumers (i.e. patients) could
maintain their own personal health record (PHR) online. Hospital
staff and emergency services personnel could then access that
information to get patient history, as well as allergic reactions to
drugs and more. The VeriGuard application was considered to be
versatile secure access technology which let in authorized persons
and blocked out unauthorized persons. Finally, VeriChip’s
‘Corrections’ product had to do with chipping people who had
committed a crime, were on parole or probation, or were awaiting
trial. According to VeriChip about 2,000 persons had been implanted
worldwideby the end of 2008. 9

2. Effects on society
As we can see from the above examples,
the application of implantable technology ranges from academic
research through a hobby to commercial uses. As it’s becoming more
popular, it also raises more and more questions and issues.
2.1 Conspiracy theories
As with all conspiracies, there are
variations on the theory and they vary in extremeness but the main
claim is that governments will eventually force everyone to get
implanted, either by phasing out cash so the only way to buy anything
will be with an implant that also functions as an ID, or secretly
implanting people through vaccination programmes. Then the government
will use the implants to constantly monitor our every move, like in
an Orwellian nightmare. The most extreme claim ties in with religious
conspiracy theories and deem the implants the Mark of the Beast as
referred to in the Book of Revelation. 10

Even less exteme sources seem to
believe that the implants mihgt be used for some form of tracking.
These fears can be dismissed immediately as tracking is simply not
possible with this technology, as the passive RFID tags don’t have
their own energy sourse, they collect energy from a nearby reader’s
interrogating radio waves, which makes constant tracking impossible.