Embracing the grind

edited February 2015 in Everything else
Hi Everyone!

My name is Robert and I’m an Interaction designer from Edinburgh. I’ve only recently discovered this scene and I was initially put onto biohacking and transhumanism when listening to a Joe Rogan podcast featuring Lucas from Grindhouse Wetware. Most of my previous work has been looking at the affects of human touch and our relationships with everyday objects. I must admit I’m rather excited by the magnetic implant, since the new sense acquired would alter everyday interactions and lifestyle choices.

I’m currently contemplating getting an magnetic implant done early next year. In the meantime I’m trying to get my head round the biohacking culture itself.

Is anyone willing to discuss what their perception of biohacking culture is and what the potential end game could be through all this? 

I will try and contribute towards the community as I learn more about it.

Cheers, Robert


  • What draws me to this scene is that I see this as a way to take human evolution (my own particularly) in to my hand and mold it as I see fit. I am a Radio frequency engineer and electronics technician so augmenting the body to better interact with the machines that I use on an everyday basis. I once heard of a "classified Soviet study" in which a Russian pilot was outfitted with a cerebral microchip implant which allowed him to control his MIG purely through though. while I am nearly 100% sure this story was complete B.S. the ability to seamlessly interface with a machine like a fighter jet would be absolutely amazing to me and if I can aid in us all reaching that sort of achievement in any way possible, well sign me up! 
  • A quick comment re: evolution. I see this often in the transhumanist community. It's not a criticism but rather a distinction that I feel is important.. evolution first of all does not imply improvement and it cannot happen to a single organism. You actually can't evolve.

    Evolution consist of some form of genetic change in germ line cell, most likely a mutation but it could also be a few other events. This change manifest in an organisms offspring and if the new trait is beneficial enough that the organism breeds and it's offspring have characteristics which make them better suited to survive long enough to also breed... you have evolutionary event.

    Usually these new characteristics aren't the kind of thing we as grinders/biohackers/transhumanists are looking for. If we genetically modify bacteria, it's got a natural predilection to drop the modification in that if a bacteria looses that trait - it's a better energy user and breeder. Imagine a bacteria that somehow gained sentience! Wow. Amazing. It's do all kinds of interesting things while the other bacteria did all kinds of predictable and yet beneficial things which would allow them to outbreed and make extinct our little conscious bacteria friend. Ok, I'm actually delirious from lack of sleep so excuse me if this make little actual sense.

    And I've heard that MIG pilots had EEG sensors in their helmets that control some non-vital functions.
  • I understand what you are saying completely, however, I believe that the majority of people are not speaking about evolution in the context that you are interpreting it in, Including myself, but are instead using the word evolution in the context of its definition. by definition evolution is any process of formation ,growth, or development and is not specific to the the traits passed down to ones offspring +- mutations. 

    Instead I feel that people speaking about evolution in the context of grinding or trans-humanism are thinking more on the lines of a "singularity" situation where humans use technology to overcome the limitations of slowly evolving via mutation and passed down trains and instead rapidly manipulate their own or their children's characteristics be that through integration of electronics, or genetically modified super babies. At some point humans will develop the tool to play god and completely control creation. its simply a mater of time and effort. 

    A sentient bacteria would be really, really cool! but would we ever actually be able to realize that they are sentient if it ever happened?

    MIG pilots using EEG sensors to control non-vital functions does make a lot more sense that an implanted interface. And it is something that I would personally find incredibly interesting to see if I could re-create and hack the system that they used to do all kinds of nifty things so if you happen to ever run across any documentation, articles, or anything that could point to how they accomplished it please let me know about them!
  • I've used the term evolution in some of my own writings and had this same dilemma with myself. But I figure that, even though biohackers are dealing with a biological entity and sometimes even DNA directly, the term evolution is used more in the colloquial sense rather than meaning literal genetic evolution. More like "the evolution of language" to define an increase in complexity/function..I had to comment since I've actually sat and had this exact train of thought before.
  • I support Cass with his breakdown. He may be sleep deprived, but it makes plenty of sense.

    Before I cut loose here, I just want to say, I obviously full support efforts made to make changes in human abilities. That being said...

    People, words mean things. It is not a good idea to start talking about "not evolution in the context that you are interpreting it...". Evolution means one thing, 

    The definition that you put forth about evolution is not actually correct. It actually means just the thing that was put forth, a process that happens in plants in animals in their genes over a long time.  Feel free to Google.

    Individuals don't evolve, they grow or change. Now if you do a germline alteration which sticks, and works to further your ability to survive, and it is passed on to your offspring, and it improves their ability to survive, then you may have caused and evolution event. Really great tools skills, from magnets to glasses to learning how to do handstands, are not evolution. They are augments and personal betterment. 

    This misuse of language is precisely how we get into messes where people freak out about GMO's while walking a dachshund. 
  • pibpib
    edited August 2014
    my two cents: I'm sympathetic to using terms colloqually or unscientifically, sometime it is easier to get the point across. "Walking my daschund today was really good for my personal evolution to becoming more mindful of GMOs in my cornflakes."

    That said, the intellectual rigor of many members of this community is pretty astounding, the work produced here is highly specialized and niche, and we should be highly specific and careful with our words. A non-dramatic example of this would be If we are about to discuss "putting a magnet into a finger," we need to be careful to distinguish first digit, second digit, base segment, etc, lest someone gets excited and accidentally rips out a fingernail, or whatever. I'm sure there are more pertinent examples.

    And to Glims's point about the dachshund, what we do freaks some people out. When trying to explain what we do and why, we're less likely to be scorned if we use words like "medical grade implants for scientific inquiry" instead of "command evolution as I desires with my magnet fingers" or something.
  • The discussion about the term evolution is relevant. As pib said, I think suggesting that one person claiming to be self evolving is something that would both confuse and scare the general public. Is is fair to say the movement aims to create advanced humans? super humans?

    I've discussed grinding with friends and they cannot see past the "psycho paths self implanting circuit boards into every limb" vision. Would it be easier for them to relate to the practice in the sense it aims to realise visions from science fiction media? If that is even the case...
  • I understand the need to use words deliberately in order to not off-put the general public from the things that we are working on here and I am was quite deliberate in my statements about how I want to find ways to evolve us as a race I have a very distinct of how I believe the future will look and that future require humans to integrate with technology. 

    While you may not agree with my use of the word evolution I promise you I have used this word in a correct form. Here is the definition if it pleases you: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evolve?s=t
  • Is anyone here a fan of Fuller? See, BF was really into words and he thought it was important to be hyper-literal about a lot of things. The classic example is that he prefered sunclipse and sunsight to sunrise and sunset. I'm a real fan of the Sapir-Worf hypothesis despite all of the evidence that works against it. Particulars of language are important and in this case the colloquial is wrong. Language was a perfect example because it includes death - the death of words or pronunciation, even whole languages and language groups.

    The reason I'm kind of going off here isn't to criticize Osteth at all. I'm sure he understands evolution and as he points out, it's even described that way in a dictionary entry. The reason I'm going of about this is because the colloquial use is used all the time by people in the transhumanist community, grinders, and biohackers incorrectly. Change is change. Evolution is evolution. People criticize Christians due to creationist beliefs, but if a person doesn't understand evolution then I don't see much different. I mean shit, if we have a section here essentially snidely looking down on Christians because of their fear of the mark of the beast, then we probably have our shit straight regarding evolution.

    Even if you hit me with gamma rays and I turn into the hulk? Not evolution.
  • I understand the point you are trying to make and would agree with you I am just pointing out that there is a lack of proper terminology around the subject.  Or there are more proper words to use and they are just not widely known.  I look at the word evolution in the sames sense as the word dog. 

    when I say dog you understand that I am talking about a 4 legged animal with fur but have no idea what particular breed I am talking about. 

    When using the word evolution I am talking about a creature changing, but not specifying how the change is happening. 

    I think that you are on to something with hyper-literal words and think that maybe we should come up with a set of more literal words to more accurately describe the process of changing in to a trans-human. 
  • Agreed. I'm certainly not trying to be a prescriptivist. I do understand exactly what you mean when you say evolve. I understand that in this case you are using it to indicate change, but that you also understand what it indicates otherwise. I'm not sure that this is the case for many other people. I really don't think enough people truly understand what it means for something to evolve.

    People often say thing like, "Were taking control of our own evolution." and other statements along these lines. I understand the sentiment but I think it's being stated vaguely.
  • It is defiantly vague. I think a lot of it comes from the media surrounding the topic. someone created a catchy phrase and it sticks and resonates with everyone new to the topic. 

    I personally have a personal disagreement with the term grinding because it paints a very negative image of the community and suggests that people are doing this stuff with little to no forethought. I am sure someone out there is just stabbing random objects in their body for giggles but im fairly certain the majority are not. 

    I think that one of the main objectives of the trans-humanist community should be to make it more acceptable and main stream to do this kind of stuff so that people don't look at this in a negative light.  I mean look at tattooing and piercing. people have been modifying their bodies for cosmetic purpose basically since the beginning of human history and it still has a stigma about it today. being that this is a relatively young thing that's going on here associating it with fringe activities does not really help the cause.  especially if the community is self identifying with it. 

  • edited August 2014
    Is it possible that the publics preconceptions could be based on both the use of the term Grinding (what it suggests) and imagery dragged from all over the internet. One of the first examples I happened to show a friend was the Circadia implant Tim Cannon received. I understand without his prototyping and implant procedure the board could not be efficiently tested, but the image of bulging matter and stitching within his arm is highly susceptible to negativity from society.

    Is the practice still too young and raw for true mainstream media exposure? Tattooing and piercings are accepted within society upto a certain point. Advancements in technology will hopefully allow for much smaller implantable units that could been seen as more public friendly.

    The main opposition I have had from people around me about the magnet implant, is the potential for infection, deterioration or its self removal from my finger. They do however think it would be "cool" to have an extra sense / power.

    *another thought - is there a need to change public perceptions? surely that would change the dynamics of what makes the biohacking movement unique.
  • I fell that it will come down to someone creating something really, really cool and influential on society, for instance something like the Iphone. except it will require an implant to make it work. and people will have to make the choice either get the implant and get to use to super cool thing or be left out of the movement. but its really all going to come down to marketing and convincing the public that the risk and cost is worth the reward. 

    changing the public perception little by little now drawing it to a positive light only lays the ground work so that this scenario is easier for the masses to accept. 
  • I don't presume to know where this movement will go, how far it will go, or what it may or may not achieve. All we can do is continue to strive in the direction we feel is most useful and most applicable to our needs- both as a collective movement, and as the independently-spirited individuals most of us are. 

    I can, however, comment on my personal philosophical reasons for pursuing biohacking and for trying my very best to contribute what I can to this community. I see biohacking as a "noble" cause, to put it one way. We are people who strive to be vanguards in the development of the human condition towards a higher platform. We put our health, our comfort, and our money on the line to do the hands on research and experimentation for the purpose of a greater good that many people are unwilling to do. For people like us, who have the passionate spark, the imagination, the willingness to collaborate, the desire to push the envelope as far as we can where we can- I feel it is somewhat our duty to do the things we do. I especially feel this way for people like myself- I am of the first generation born who *always* had the internet. I was born into an era of technological development that is historically impressive, and my generation grew up steeped in it, nursed by it, and molded by it. My generation is the first to have the tools that we do today available to us from birth- and that instills in me a feeling of obligation to continue to advance the technology and the human condition of living in the ways we can for our future generations. We have the ability to do so- and in my mind, the ability to do so paired with the passion to do so results in a responsibility to do so. If we don't, who will? We shouldn't count on other people to do the dirty work of being on the frontier. Whether this movement goes mainstream or not in our lifetimes, whether our experimentation is embraced or not, we will be able to look back and say that we did not wait for the developments to come to us- we blazed trails to get to them, and we gave the rest of the world the opportunity to catch up with us. I know not everyone will share that philosophy, and mine isn't any more or less valid than anyone else's. But that is the reason why I grind.
  • edited August 2014

    Osteth, I think you are right. If or when aspects of the movement become mainstream I would imagine they would exist initially as trends. From what I’ve seen I can imagine if there was to be a sought after implant accepted within society, it would earn recognised status alongside low end body modifications (simple piercings). Would the sale of implants come through online retailers such as amazon and ebay? or would they still be manufactured in small numbers through independent parties?

    I would consider such acceptance would lead to profit. It would be interesting to see what grinding practices could achieve with consistent high levels of external income. I’m not in a position to say, but could this lead to institutions embracing such practices to advance and profit from it’s success?

    I get the impression that the grinding movement in particular challenges existing preconceptions of what constitutes the amateur and the professional within society. Would this change?

    Severina your point about trail blazing is one that I’ve noticed through my short time on this site. I’ve never witnessed such passion and innovation from any previous online space or institutionalised setting I have encountered. I the believe personal achievement of grinders will be significant in future considerations about the practice. The way in which they ultimately add to the communities ethics of open source practice will give recognition to a new age sub cultural practice.

    It seems to be a fairly new practice, but I’m sure there are others like myself who are fascinated with what is going on. It’s just the beginning but I imagine grinding to envelop a rich history.

  • "I get the impression that the grinding movement in particular challenges existing preconceptions of what constitutes the amateur and the professional within society. Would this change?"

    I know this wasn't addressed to me, but I'd like to add my two cents in on it as well. 

    Personally, I hope that if one revolutionary change comes from biohacking besides the obvious goal of elevated human condition, I would like it to be this. We are a grass roots movement that levels the fields of academia, medicine, technology, and so much more. I am a firm believer that knowledge is knowledge, and that knowledge is valuable, no matter how or where you got it from. A piece of paper does not make you a better programmer than someone without who has an equal skill set through self-taught practice, for example. Obviously, some things take years to learn correctly and institutionalized practice helps to ensure quality of learning- but closed-door, elite, for-profit institutions should not be the only avenue for acquiring quality skills. I believe that possessing demonstrable knowledge should be the only validation necessary. This ties into a whole lot of social justice perspective on classism and the "gate keepers" of knowledge that have become so ingrained in Western culture- the idea that knowledge is not for everyone, but only for the few who have the luxury of being able to afford it and jump through the numerous hoops to get it. Biohacking in and of itself destroys the concept of elite or unattainable knowledge, and in addition often promotes communal learning and innovation as well. Both are attitudes that I hope to see embraced by society at large. 
  • "I would consider such acceptance would lead to profit. It would be interesting to see what grinding practices could achieve with consistent high levels of external income. I’m not in a position to say, but could this lead to institutions embracing such practices to advance and profit from it’s success?"

    Honestly, nothing in this world gets done without money. and usually lots of it. 

    instead of thinking of it as an implant such as what is being used now, think of the coolest product you could possibly imagine. and now make it require implants to work. 

    I am currently working on something I think would be really awesome. but I have to get the money to fund R&D + production. So I am developing some other pretty cool products that are easier for me to develop and produce first. 

    I'm working on a pair of glasses with flexible OLED screens laminated to the lenses, A microphone would be implanted against the jaw bone and transmit wireless to the glasses,  Two small magnet would be implanted under the ear drums which would be vibrated by small induction coils in the ear pieces of the glasses. This would essentially give you a pair of permanent headphones. The data would transmit via blue tooth to you phone and you would have visuals, sound and microphone though the device. the frame will be made of molded LiPo batteries so that they will look just like a regular pair of glasses. 

    A camera could also be added but I think that a majority of people have an objection to being filmed discreetly so I plan to leave that out.  If  it comes together like I want it to, It would be essentially unnoticeable that you have a high tech piece of equipment on your face. 

    I don't think that small implant producers, like there are now,  will last for long once implantable tech starts to pick up steam, likely they will either be bought out buy a large corporation like google, apple, ect. or a large power player will grow out the movement and become the next big company. 

    I think one of the key ingredient to this process is Bio-computing, We need to clone our circuits instead of building them. at that point the circuits could be as easy to implant as getting a shot in the correct location and they will most likely be sold in stores at the local mall.  I don't seem them being sold on amazon or ebay at that stage,  to protect the companies intellectual property they will implant what you want in store so that if you want to reverse engineer it you have to dig it out of your body the hard way.  
  • edited February 2015
    @Severina  i could not agree more. 
  • I am also new to this. I posted the new here discussion and figured we could direct people just starting out over there. Just doing what I can to help
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