Body hacking

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Body hacking is the application of the hacker ethic to improve their own bodies with do it yourself cybernetic devices[1] or introducing biochemicals[2] into the body to enhance or change their bodies' functionality. It is also known as biohacking, although this term also has other meanings. People engaged in this activity are called grinders. Many grinders identify with the biopunk movement, open-source transhumanism, and techno-progressivism.[3][4][5] The Grinder movement is strongly associated with the body modification movement and practices actual implantation of cybernetic devices in organic bodies as a method of working towards transhumanism,[3][6] such as designing and installing do-it-yourself body-enhancements such as magnetic implants.[3][6] Biohacking emerged in a growing trend of non-institutional science and technology development.[7][8][9]

According to, "Grinders are passionate individuals who believe the tools and knowledge of science belong to everyone. Grinders practice functional extreme body modification in an effort to improve the human condition. [Grinders] hack [them]selves with electronic hardware to extend and improve human capacities. Grinders believe in action, [thei]r bodies the experiment."[4]

"Biohacking" can also refer to managing one's own biology using a combination of medical, nutritional and electronic techniques. This may include the use of nootropics, non-toxic substances, and/or cybernetic devices for recording biometric data (as in the Quantified Self movement).[10]


1984 - The 1984 Novel Neuromancer by William Gibson is often attributed as the cause in the rise of transhumanism culture popularity in modern times, and for coining terminology and ideas that form the basis of modern Cyberpunk and body hacking culture.[11]


Grinders largely identify with transhumanist and biopunk ideologies.[7][12] Transhumanism is the belief that it is both possible and desirable to so fundamentally alter the human condition through the use of technologies as to inaugurate a superior post-human being.[13][14][15] Kara Platoni categorizes such technological modifications as "hard" biohacking, noting the desire to expand the boundaries of human perception and even create "new senses".[16][17]

Biopunk is a techno-progressive cultural and intellectual movement which advocates open access to genetic information and espouses the liberating potential of truly democratic technological development.[18][19] Like other punk movements, Biopunk encourages the DIY ethic.[12][20] "Grinders" adhere to an anarchist strain of biopunk that emphasizes non-hierarchical science and DIY.[citation needed]

Cyborgs and cyborg theory strongly influence techno-progressivism and transhumanism and are thus influential to both the DIY-bio movement and grinder movement in general.[21] Some biohackers such as Grinders and the British professor of cybernetics Kevin Warwick actively design and implement technologies which are integrated directly into the organic body.[3] Examples of this include DIY magnetic fingertip implants, which allows the cyborg to feel the electromagnetic pull of nearby objects in their fingers, or Warwick’s "Project Cyborg".[22][23][24] Cyborg theory was kickstarted in 1985 with the publication of Donna Haraway’s influential "Cyborg Manifesto" but can be traced back all the way to Manfred Clynes and Nathan Klines’ 1960 article, "Cyborgs and Space".[25] This body of theory criticizes the rigidity of ontological boundaries and attempts to denaturalize artificial dichotomies.[21]

Notable persons[edit]

  • Kevin Warwick is a British scientist and professor of cybernetics who has been instrumental in advancing and popularizing cyborg technology and biohacking through his self-experiments.[26][27]
  • Steve Mann is a professor of electrical and computer engineering who has dedicated his career to inventing, implementing, and researching cyborg technologies, in particular, wearable computing technologies.
  • Amal Graafstra is known for implanting an RFID chip in 2005 and developing human-friendly chips including the first ever implantable NFC chip.[28] In 2013, he founded the biotech startup company Dangerous Things.[29] He is also the author of RFID Toys[30] and speaker on biohacking topics including a TEDx[31] talk. He has also built a smartgun which is activated by his implants.[32] He has also created an implantable cryptographic processor called VivoKey[33] for personal identity and cryptography applications.
  • Lepht Anonym is a biohacker and transhumanist known for self-surgeries and material implementation of transhumanist ideologies.[34]
  • Winslow Strong is a mathematician and physicist.[35]
  • Tim Cannon is a software developer, entrepreneur, and co-founder of biotech startup company Grindhouse Wetware.[36]
  • Jeffrey Tibbetts is the organiser of the Grindfest events at his lab in California. He is a biohacking researcher whose work has been featured in a number of sources, such as Gizmodo.[37]
  • Alex Smith is a well known biohacker for his work developing new implants, such as the Firefly implants.[38] He has spoken at various conferences including DEFCON[39] and been featured in news articles, such as NBC Chicago.[40]
  • Rich Lee is known for implanting headphones in his tragi in 2013, as well as for his work on a vibrating pelvic implant called the Lovetron9000. His biohacking activities were used as a justification to remove his parental custody rights in 2016.[41][42][43][44]
  • Brian Hanley is an American microbiologist who became known for being one of the first biohackers to engineer their own DNA using gene therapy for human enhancement and life extension.[45]
  • Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow implanted a microchip used for the Opal card in Sydney, Australia, though he was subsequently fined $220 for failing to comply with existing transit laws.[46] He also ran against Barnaby Joyce in the Division of New England.[46]
  • Kai Castledine, creator of KSEC[47] Launched the first distributor of Dangerous Things LLC And Vivokey products in the UK called KSEC Solutions.[48] KSEC also started the worldwide transition of moving microchip implant installations to require a professional. This was through a worldwide partner network called KSEC Cyborg Centers
  • Pinchy, a UK piercer with 15 years of experience in the industry [49] started installing microchips [50] in 2013. Since December 2018 he’s worked with KSEC Solutions to ensure microchip installations are done by professionals only. This was achieved under the KSEC Cyborg center partnership, which aims to bring products like the Vivokey [51] to the wider public.
  • Josiah Zayner attempted a full fecal microbiota transplant on himself in February 2016.[52]
  • Dave Asprey is an American entrepreneur and author and founded Bulletproof 360, Inc. in 2013. Asprey is a biohacker and has written five books regarding the same. Asprey has said that he expects to live to age 180. As of 2019, Asprey said he had spent at least $1 million "hacking his own biology," including having his own stem cells injected into him, taking 100 daily supplements, following a strict diet, bathing in infrared light, using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, and wearing special lenses when flying.

Popular usage[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Body Hacking is part of the greater Transhumanism trend.

The Cyberpunk Genre is largely inspired the idea of body hacking adoption in the human population.

1984 Novel Neuromancer by American-Canadian writer William Gibson was largely credited among peers as the definitive book on bio hackers and the only novel to win the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award.[53]

2014 Novel Red Rising by Pierce Brown and following series "Red Rising Saga" discuss themes of body hacking.[54]

2020 Hit Video game Cyberpunk 2077 largely based on the Cyberpunk genre features themes on cyber implants and body hacking.[55]

Groups and organizations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Biohackers are implanting LEDs under their skin". Motherboard. 9 November 2015.
  2. ^ "This Biohacker Used Eyedrops To Give Himself Temporary Night Vision". Gizmodo. 27 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Popper, Ben. "Cyborg America: inside the strange new world of basement body hackers". Verge Magazine. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Who We Are". 28 August 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  5. ^ "DIYBio Codes". DIYBio. 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Body Modifications and Bio-Hacking". 21 May 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  7. ^ a b Greg Boustead (11 December 2008). "The Biohacking Hobbyist". Seed Magazine. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  8. ^ Phil McKenna (7 January 2009). "Rise of the garage genome hackers". New Scientist. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  9. ^ Patti Schiendelman (1 January 2009). "DIYBio for biohackers". Make: Online. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  10. ^ Glen Martin (28 June 2012). "'Biohackers' mining their own bodies' data". SF Gate. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Neuromancer | Summary & Cultural Impact". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  12. ^ a b Meredith L. Patterson (30 January 2010). "A Biopunk Manifesto". "Outlaw Biology? Public Participation in the Age of Big Bio.". Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  13. ^ Bostrom, Nick (2005). "A History of Transhumanist Thought" (PDF). Journal of Evolution and Technology. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  14. ^ Hayles, Katherine (1999). How we became posthuman : virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-32139-4.
  15. ^ Katherine Hayles (11 September 2011). "H-: Wrestling with Transhumanism". MetaNexus. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  16. ^ Czuba, Killian (2017). "Fast Forward". Distillations. 2 (4): 44–45. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  17. ^ Platoni, Kara (8 December 2015). We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception, One Sense at a Time. Basic Books. pp. 7, 237–254. ISBN 978-0465089970. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  18. ^ Newitz, Annalee (2001). "Biopunk". Archived from the original on 20 December 2002. Retrieved 26 January 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ Newitz, Annalee (2002). "Genome Liberation". Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "Oxford Journal of Design History Webpage". Retrieved 24 September 2007. Yet, it remains within the subculture of punk music where the homemade, A4, stapled and photocopied fanzines of the late 1970s fostered the "do-it-yourself" (DIY) production techniques of cut-n-paste letterforms, photocopied and collaged images, hand-scrawled and typewritten texts, to create a recognizable graphic design aesthetic.
  21. ^ a b Gray, Chris Hables (1995). The Cyborg Handbook. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415908498.
  22. ^ Warwick, Kevin. "Implants and Technology: The Future of Healthcare?". TEDxWarwick. TED. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  23. ^ "Projects". Grindhouse Wetware. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  24. ^ Brickley, London (2019). "Bodies without Borders". Western Folklore. 78: 5–37.
  25. ^ Clynes, Manfred; Kline, Nathan (September 1960). "Cyborgs and Space". Astronautics. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  26. ^ Warwick, K, Gasson, M, Hutt, B, Goodhew, I, Kyberd, P, Andrews, B, Teddy, P and Shad, A:“The Application of Implant Technology for Cybernetic Systems”, Archives of Neurology, 60(10), pp1369-1373, 2003
  27. ^
  28. ^ "The xNT implantable NFC chip". Indiegogo. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  29. ^ "Dangerous Things". Dangerous Things. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  30. ^ "RFID Toys". Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  31. ^ TEDx Talks (17 October 2013), Biohacking – the forefront of a new kind of human evolution: Amal Graafstra at TEDxSFU, retrieved 5 May 2016
  32. ^ Motherboard (23 March 2017), Who Killed the Smart Gun?, retrieved 26 May 2017
  33. ^ "Vivokey – The future is waiting..." Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  34. ^ Borland, John. "Transcending the Human, DIY Style". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  35. ^ Strong, Winslow. "Winslow's Bio". Biohack Yourself: Transcend Your Limits. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  36. ^ "The DIY Cyborg – VICE".
  37. ^ "The Real Science Behind the Crazy Night Vision Eyedrops".
  38. ^ " – Firefly implants".
  39. ^ "DEF CON 23 – BioHacking Village – Alex Smith – Cloning Access Cards to Implants".
  40. ^ "NBC Chicago – Human Body Merges With Technology in 'Biohacking' Trend".
  41. ^ Curtis, Sophie (27 May 2016). "Vibrating penises and bionic arms: The inventions turning people into CYBORGS".
  42. ^ "The real cyborgs – in-depth feature about people merging with machines".
  43. ^ Dujmovic, Jurica. "Biohackers implant computers, earbuds and antennas in their bodies".
  44. ^ "These Young Cyborgs Are Building the Future of Modern Medicine".
  45. ^ Regalado, Antonio. "One man's quest to hack his own genes". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  46. ^ a b Sainty, Lane (15 March 2018). "A Self-Described "Cyborg" Who Got A Travel Card Chip Implanted In His Hand Just Got A Ticket Fine". BuzzFeed News.
  47. ^ KSEC
  48. ^ KSEC Solutions
  49. ^ Voodoo body piercing
  50. ^ xNT
  51. ^ Vivokey
  52. ^ Duhaime-Ross, Arielle (May 4, 2016). "A Bitter Pill". The Verge. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  53. ^ Hollinger, Veronica (July 1999). "Contemporary Trends in Science Fiction Criticism, 1980–1999". Science Fiction Studies. 26 (78). Retrieved December 31, 2020.
  54. ^ Brown, Pierce, 1988-. Red rising. London. ISBN 978-1-4447-5899-3. OCLC 903771340.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  55. ^ Biggs, Tim (19 December 2020). "Cyberpunk 2077 is a stunning achievement and a crying shame". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 31 December 2020.

External links[edit]