Joseph Roberts-University of Manchester, David Lawrence-Newcastle University
A series of panels on biohacking, enhancement, and their regulatory implications, taking place as part of MANCEPT 2017 at the University of Manchester, September 11-13, 2017
Technologies are increasingly being incorporated into the body. ‘Grinder’ and biohacking movements are gaining momentum as more and more individuals are beginning to practice increasingly extreme body modifications; using technology to enhance, extend and modify the capabilities of the human body. Amal Graafstra has incorporated Near Field Communication Chips (NFC) and Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RDIF) into his hands in order to enable him to access his home, office and car without the use of keys and access password protected websites and hardware in a secure manner. Tim Cannon implanted a prototype (Circadia) that collected and transmitted biometric data wirelessly to a smartphone under his skin, enabling him to closely monitor his body temperature. A consumer friendly version of Circadia is being developed that will allow measurement of blood glucose and blood oxygen levels as well as blood pressure and temperature. Other biohackers have implanted magnets in their fingertips to sense magnetic fields (giving them a form of sixth sense) and into their tragi to transmit sound directly into the ears. Naltrexone (an opioid receptor antagonist) implants can be inserted into the lower abdomen in order to aid recovery in opioid addicts by precluding individuals from experiencing the effects of drugs like heroin and morphine. Developments such as these offer tantalising possibilities in terms of convenience, privacy, our relationship to and experience of the natural world, and increased health; but also bring with them significant ethical questions concerning our relationship to our bodies, the limits of consent, and the role of doctors (and other professionals working in clinical and periclinical scenarios).