January 21, 2007

"You are the platform"

Journalist Quinn Norton recently gave a talk at the 23rd Chaos Communication Congress which took place in Berlin during the first week of January 2007. Her presentation was titled, "Body hacking - Functional body modification. You are the platform."

From her presentation description,
How society is likely to react to enhancement technologies or enhanced humans? Early adopters face dangers including pain, disfigurement, and death- how will that shape progress? Technology and flesh are going to come together, but will they come together in you? Bring your own stories of modification, and you own ideas about what constitutes post human- and whether that's a good or bad thing.
A number of years ago Norton had a magnet implanted in the tip of one of her fingers -- an idea that was pioneered by the likes of Jesse Jarrell and Steve Haworth. She started to sense electro-magnetic fields, she could feel her laptop's hard drive spinning, she could could tell if an electrical cord was live, and feel running motors and security devices. The implant endowed her, for all intents and purposes, with a sixth sense.

For her lecture, Norton tackled a number of issues that touched upon the therapy versus enhancement debate. To reveal the arbitrariness of therapy v. enhancement, she noted such advancements as LASIK (laser eye surgery), stomach staples (to prevent obesity), Modafinil (sleep replacement pharma), and IUDs (intrauterine devices). Loooking forward, Quinn described the potential for such things as tooth phone implants and neural pacemakers.

As a pro-enhancement advocate, Norton also warned about the need for medical tourism and a rising black market. She is equally concerned that only the sick will receive treatment while soldiers get enhanced. Norton asks, " How do we create a non-medical human-market for altering ourselves?"

Read more here. Check out some of her slides here.

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