Bio-Hacking Is a Thing

posted by iHeartMedia’s Nikki Courtney -

It’s hard to imagine how slicing one’s hand open and inserting a microchip the size of a piece of rice can be “a thing,” but the practice of bio-hacking continues gaining in popularity. 

In a pure form, biohacking is a reference to amateur biology for self-improvement, but the term has also embraced implantation of microchips, generally between the thumb and index finger, for various purposes.  For practical and reasonable reasons, some biohackers befriend medical experts for assistance in implantation without risk of infection, but for some – if you’re going to be cutting-edge, you have to expect to cut something.

Last year an American company inserted chips into employee’s hands so that with the swipe across a sensor they could access a locked area.  There was a public outcry, but not enough to stop the concept from moving forward, says CNET News West Executive Editor Ian Sherr.  “There’s a company in Europe that offered to install a rice-grain-sized sensor into people’s hands so they wouldn’t have to carry key cards to get into their building,” he tells NewsRadio 740 KTRH.  Besides opening office doors, experimentation has included unlocking car doors, as you would with a FOB, or with the wave of a hand starting a car, or waving a hand to pay for a cup of coffee as you might with a smartphone, and if that Brave New World sounds far too distant, recall that people over the age of 50 wrote checks for purchases and used keys to unlock cars that required turning a crank to roll down a window because air-conditioning hadn’t been introduced yet.  Those folks might soon get their hands chipped.

Houston futurist Peter Bishop worries about the risk of hackers hacking the biohackers, as does Sherr.  “A lot of the chips out there are actually hackable, so if you put a chip into your body and a hacker can go into it and steal your bank information, that’s a problem,” Sherr says. Bishop suggests early-adaptors will experiment and discover vulnerabilities, which government and judges will step in to protect, and considers the practice may move forward with wider acceptance if nothing better comes along.

The early-adapters are cutting-edges, but hopefully, before the technology moves mainstream, consumers won’t be required to cut themselves as the instruments of tomorrow propel us forward.

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