Magnet Implant I: Armstrong as Icarus

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This article was started
with the intent to inform regarding Neodymium Implants, which
can provide a person with the ability to sense the electromagnetic
domain. On the surface, this seems a rather straightforward pursuit,
but in the attempt to answer the most important question regarding
these implants, the question why, I realized that they are far
more than a novel new form of jewelry. Magnet implants represent the
emergence of a new way of thinking that challenges our notions as to
what it means to be human and it would be an injustice not to first
explore the history, subcultures, and mentalities that have led to
the emergence of magnet implants as a trend now. This article is the
first of four and together they’ll provide all the information needed
to make any decisions regarding the who, what, where, and when of
getting a magnet implant. This first article however focuses solely
on the why and along the way provides a brief overview of the
Transhumanist Movement.
The most celebrated men and
women are those who exhibit skills and abilities, be it
intellectually or physically, beyond that of the common man. This is
only valid, however, if those capabilities are acquired through
socially preferred means. Lance Armstrong for example, won the Tour
De France an amazing seven consecutive times as well as many other
feats in related sports such as triathlons and marathons. Upon
acknowledging the use of Epogen, his former adherents became
detractors and his feats are looked upon with contempt. The means by
which he achieved his many victories were not socially acceptable and
his accomplishments are no longer assessed as being worthy of any
merit whatsoever. Joe Public seems to honestly believe that with the
right mix of performance enhancers they’d be riding right alongside
Armstrong and few are willing to acknowledge that athletic doping is
simply par for the course amongst top athletes.
The Armstrong example
certainly didn’t set any precedence. In the 1988 Summer Olympics, Ben
Johnson set a 100m world record of 9.79 seconds but was disqualified
three days later due to urine which tested positive for a synthetic
anabolic steroid. He faced public ridicule and was shamed in spite of
the fact that he had just proven to be the fastest man who had ever
lived. It was another ten years until this record was met and twenty
years until it was surpassed. The current 100m record holder, Usain
Bolt is still a mere 0.21 seconds faster. His coach, Angel Hernandez
stated in a 2008 documentary,“The winner will not be clean.
Not even any of the contestants will be clean. There is no doubt
about it. The difference between 10.0 and 9.7 seconds is the drugs.”
While it’s possible that Bolt
truly accomplished this without banned performance enhancers, it’s
also possible and perhaps even likely that we’re seeing result of 20
years of coaches learning dope in a way that circumvents screening.
The line between hero and
zero is as thin as the line on a urine dip stick. It seems having a
personal dietician determined diet, a personal coach led training
regimen, the economic means to train day in and day out in lieu of a
job, and thousands of dollars worth of publicly accepted supplements
isn’t seen as unfair advantage in any way. We live in a Horatio Alger
era of sports where people believe any man can rise up and become the
next athletic superstar with but a cheerful whistle and an open manly
face.
It’s only the most
despicable who would cross that line and use a World Anti-Doping Code
prohibited substance.

On the other hand, the very same mechanisms which are frowned upon
and penalized in sports are totally acceptable for those who are only
hoping for the abilities of an average human. Androgen analogs aren’t
bad as long as they’re prescribed to a man whose body produces less
than the average, but is banned in sports related to it’s role in
muscle growth. Growth Hormone is prescribed for children of short
stature, but is decried as unethical for athletes because of unproven
claims it improves performance. Epogen is prescribed to those
suffering from anemia, but illicit amongst athletes as the boosted
production of red blood cells are advantageous for runners and
cyclists . Even beta-blocker medications such as metoprolol which are
used in the average man to treat hypertension are banned in Olympic
events related to it’s ability to decrease anxiety and prevent shaky
hands. The use of these substances are widespread and only frowned
upon if used in the hopes of abilities beyond that of the average
fellow. 


Condemnation of those striving to be something more than merely human
is ever present; examples exist throughout all of history harkening
back into antiquity. Perhaps the best example of this can be found in
a comparison of the Greek myths of Pelops and Icarus. Poor Pelops was
killed and cooked by his father and served to the Gods. Upon
realizing what had happened, Demeter had Pelops resurrected and
replaced his consumed shoulder with an ivory prosthetic made by
Hephaestus the god of blacksmiths and artisans. Pelop’s prosthesis
was good; to be restored to the functionality of an average schmoe is
a gift from the gods. Icarus, in contrast, strove too far and
undeservedly flew too high. His joy in being more led to his demise.
The problem wasn’t simply that Icarus achieved great heights. Much
like society today, the Greeks worshiped their heroes. Icarus,
however, used a means which wasn’t acceptable and thus deserved his
fate. An unapproved device or substance which raises one above the
average is worthy of only condemnation and shame. I find this
perspective exceedingly strange, but it comes as no surprise that the
history of prosthetics and implants consists primarily of devices to
restore lost abilities rather than augment or create new abilities. 
A Visual History of
Prosthetic Limbs and Implants
The following galleries are
meant to show how prosthetics have developed over time. These have
been arranged in a loosely chronological order with one major
exception: the last image. The reason for this discrepancy will be
discussed further in the blog. The criteria to keep in mind when
considering these prostheses are degree of technological innovation,
aesthetics, and how beneficial the augmentation provided would have
been for the recipient. The degree of technological innovation is of
course a major factor. Prosthetic legs, for example, originally
consisted of little more than the limb of a tree and as a result we
find examples dating back to ancient Egypt. Aesthetics are also an
important consideration in that those with a prosthetic were most
often the rich and powerful. Our first image, the ancient Egyptian
toe served more to improve one’s appearance than to enhance ability.
In terms of how beneficial a prosthetic was to its recipient, it’s
interesting to take note of how at odds this criteria can appear
against the others. The simple medieval wooden leg lacks aesthetic
appeal and isn’t much of an improvement over a piece of firewood. The
difference it made in the life of its wearer though was still far
greater than the difference in benefit provided by the most modern of
hand prosthetics.
The Gallery of
Prosthesis and Implants
Fifth
Egyptian Dynasty Prosthetic Toe

(2750-2625 B.C. )
Earliest written description of a Prosthetic – Herodotus
(500 B.C.)
Roman Capua Leg (300 B.C.)
Medieval Wooden Leg (1180)
Józef Longin Sowińskis Wooden Leg (1812)
Ottobock C-Leg (1997)

Flex-Foot Cheetah Carbon Fiber Running Blades

(2006)
Götz of the Iron Hand

(1504)
Iron Arm

(1600)
Woman’s Prosthetic Hand (1800)
Victorian Prosthetic Arm (1850)
The John Hopkins Arm – with neural interface

(Still in development)
Deca Luke Arm (2014)
Multiple Attachment Hand (Source Unknown)
The next gallery spans a much shorter
period of time. The first image is a mere sixty years old. These are
implanted mechanisms and as such depend far more on the level of
available technology than limb prostheses. It’s important to note
that the “technology” being discussed isn’t merely incorporating
the ability to make electronic devices, but also the biological
knowledge needed to implant such devices without rejection occurring.
Kuntscher Nail (1939)
First Artificial Heart Valve (1952 )
First Artificial Heart (1969)
First Implantable Pacemaker (1958)
Auditory Brainstem Implant (1979)
Cochlear Implant (2002)
Vagus Nerve Stimulator (1997)
Cortical Stimulation Pacer (2008)
Kevin Warwick’s Project Cyborg (2002)
Out of the above tour of
history it’s fairly obvious how the last image of each gallery
differed from the others. Amongst the leg and foot prosthetics, the
Flex-Foot Cheetah carbon fiber running blades stand out in that
rather than simply giving a person the ability to ambulate, they
store kinetic energy more effectively than a normal biological foot
providing enhancement over the un-augmented. The last image in the
hand and arm prosthesis category is the multi-attachment arm. It’s
also unique because it provides abilities to its wearer that a normal
human hand does not. These abilities may seem rather trivial but
remember at a poorly planned gathering, the corkscrew-handed man is
king.
Regarding the implants, I
think it’s fairly obvious that Kevin Warwicks’ implant violates the
“thou shalt not” of seeking enhancement beyond our organic
baselines. In his research project called “Project Cyborg,”
Warwick underwent the surgical implantation of a 100 electrode array
which interfaced with the median nerve of his arm. From Columbia
University, he used the implant to control a robotic arm at the
University of Reading half a world away. Furthermore, the implant
allowed him to “feel” what he was doing via sensory feedback. In
2004, Warwick’s wife received an implant of her own in what can be
seen as the first technologically mediated form of telepathy. Kevin
and his wife linked their nervous systems and communicated albeit in
a very limited way.
The Current State of
Transhumanism
As we’ve seen, there has
always been enough Luddite sentiment to prevent rapid leaps in
progression of human ability unless the methodology played by
accepted rules. Everyone’s happy that agriculture has allowed for
specialization, but we’re moving into an era where a large enough
segment of the population isn’t content to wait on the slow-turnings
of the social wheel. The Transhumanist movement is a loose-knit
multinational movement with rather ambitious set of aspirations
acronymized as SMI2LE by none other than Dr. Timothy
Leary. The psychedelic and cognitive science roots of the
Transhumanist movement are absolutely fascinating. The topic warrants
an article of oceanic depth if not a series of books; however, it’s
outside the scope of this article and we’ll instead take a rather
superficial water-strider scurry around the edge of the pond of now.
SMI2LE is the
shortened form of Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, Life
Extension. Although these goals don’t encompass all the hopes of
transhumanism in form, I’d say it does in spirit. Sure, “life
extension” has become “uploading into a computer” for some and
many focus on increased physical abilities rather than “Increased
Intelligence” alone, but overall SMI2LE is an effective
explanation of what Transhumanists aspire to.
The technology and
infrastructure which may facilitate Space Migration has and continues
to grow at a radical pace. This growth and development is largely
invisible to the majority. As of 2014, there are a total of four
space stations in Low Earth Orbit. Few are aware that two of these of
stations were developed by Bigelow Aerospace, a private corporation.
Space exploration and exploitation is on the verge of a divorce from
politics and government. While there are some seriously valid
criticisms regarding capitalism, one can’t deny it’s effective at
making things happen cheap and fast.
Bigelow Aerospace is an American
Startup developing privately owned space stations. Founder Robert
Bigelow is owner of the hotel chain Budget Suites of America. The
first space hotel will undoubtedly be a Budget Suite.
In 2004 Scaled Composites
won the Ansari X-Prize, a 10,000,000 prize for being the first
non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft.
The craft was SpaceShipOne, a sub-orbital air-launched spaceplane.
This first private launch occurred at the Mojave Spaceport mere miles
from where the last Space Shuttle landed and was retired. Since this
first private flight, Scaled Composites has teamed up with Richard
Branson’s Virgin Group to form “Virgin Galactic.”
Virgin Galactic is the developing commercial
spaceflight company associated with Branson’s Virgin Group.
Virgin Galactic’s launch system consists of a
jet-powered aircraft launch platform that first carries the
spacecraft into the upper atmosphere. The craft is then then
released and fires it’s hybrid rocket engines to escape the
atmosphere.
As of 7/2014, Virgin
Galactic has performed more than 30 test flights of their
SpaceShipTwo, including three rocket powered flights. Commercial
services are scheduled to begin before the end of 2014. There’s
little doubt that Virgin Galactic will be the first company to
provide private commercial space flight but it’s certainly not the
only company with such goals. Since the launch of SpaceShipOne, over
30 corporations have formed which hope to provide commercial space
services within the next decade.
While developments in Space
Flight does tend to occur under the umbrella of a multi-billion
dollar corporation such as Virgin Group or Bigelow Aerospace this is
only a tendency and not a rule. In the rush to make bigger, better,
cheaper rocket ships the small stuff often falls through the cracks.
In this case small, as in the 2.5cm Tenebrio Molitor Beetle. T.R.E.D.
Laboratories is a startup with the long term goal of “ conquering
the scientific and technological hurdles of utilizing mined Asteroid
and non-Terran planetary strata for the support of exoplanetary
agriculture.” T.R.E.D. hopes to achieve this goal by harnessing the
abilities of the inhabitants of the undergrowth. By developing
engineered microcosms, T.R.E.D labs is hopes to create regenerative
systems through which to process wastes and provide for the needs of
inhabitants and passengers. Organisms being researched range from
unicellular algaes to the carrion loving black soldier flies.
Although the organisms may not appeal to everyone, at a certain
distance from Earth carrying all of your needs becomes an
impossibility.
TRED RESEARCH
LABORATORIES
Through research in Bioregenerative Life Support
Systems, Isolated Agrulculture and Astroecology, TRED seeks to
shatter the old preconception that the age of settlement is some
fantasy reserved for a future never to be seen as practical
reality. (T.R.E.D)
I have a lot of interest in
space flight but as of now it’s really the least “transhuman”
goal of Leary’s SMI2LE. Organisms adapt to best suit their
environment and I acknowledge that in the far reaching future space
flight will likely be the aspect with the greatest impact on human
form and function but as of now the major developments in
Transhumanism are occurring right here at home.
H+ Magazine is the publication of the Humanity +,
an international organization that explores and advocates for the
development of technologies that will enhance human capacities.
The magazine is a free web-zine and a great way to keep abreast of
developments of interest to transhumanists.
Many transhuman subcultures
are focused on life extension. Foremost of these groups is the SENS
Research Foundation which funds and participates in research hoping
to “repair the damage underlying the diseases of aging.“ Of all
that has come out of SENS perhaps the most important is that
underlying perspective: Aging isn’t a normal, natural, and acceptable
outcome. Aging is a disease and as such we should be pursuing a cure.
Some believe that the cure for death is near. SENS Chief Science
Officer Aubrey De Grey gives a 50/50 chance to the idea that the
worlds first 1000 year old human has already been born. Then again,
when antibiotics were first discovered and employed many believed
that all human diseases would be cured within a single life time. De
Grey’s claim may be overly optimistic but it’s a fascinating idea.
SENS Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public
charity that is transforming the way the world researches and
treats age-related disease.

The research SENS funds at universities around the world and
at it’s own Research Center uses regenerative medicine to repair
the damage underlying the diseases of aging. SENS goal is to help
build the industry that will cure these diseases. (SENS)

While all life
extensionists hope for a cure for aging some feel it prudent to hedge
their bets. Cryonics fills this niche. Many transhumanists are either
advocating for or actively researching methods of cryopreservation.
Although there are now a number of different companies available, the
longest running and most widely known cryopreservation service is
Alcor Life Extension Foundation, which provides people with options
for a full body freeze or for the more thrifty.. head only. The idea
is of course that at some point in the future the science will exist
allowing people to be thawed, brought back to life, and then cured of
whatever ailment originally caused their death. The science behind
cryonics has developed rapidly over the last 20 years but there has
never been a single example of animal more complex than a round worm
being cooled to the temperatures used in cryonics and then being
brought back to life. Cryonics remains the Pascal’s Wager of
transhumanism.
The Alcor Life Extension Foundation is the world
leader in cryonics, cryonics research, and cryonics technology.
Cryonics is the science of using ultra-cold temperature to
preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when
technology becomes available to do so. Alcor is a non-profit
organization located in Scottsdale, Arizona, founded in 1972.
(Alcor)
Now,
you might have noticed that I went out of order in terms of SMI2LE.
We’ve already explored what’s occuring in terms of Space Migrations
and Life Extension. I left what I believe to be most important for
last: modification of who and what we are. I2 is the
portion of the acronym meaning Increased Intelligence. The form it
takes in Transhumanism is so much more than the ability to score high
on a standardized test. In Transhumanism, intelligence is a semiotic
process incorporating far more than our computational skills;
intelligence is also measured by the perceptual breadth and depth of
our sensorium and our abilities to act and affect change in the
world. The Gods may Fiat Lux but opposable thumbs build rockets and
cryogenic tanks. Intelligence is the very creation of meaning itself.
An increase in this ability depends not only on the grey matter but
also the tools it uses to manifest will.
This
bring us to the sub group of transhumanists called Grinders. Grinders
aren’t content with lofty conversations and instead are changing the
world by changing themselves.
Biohack.Me
Biohack.me is a
web forum which acts as a think tank for those who wish to augment
themselves now rather than waiting for corporate R&D and FDA
approval. The diverse background of member and the general
willingness to collaborate facilitates rapid development and
implementation of projects.
An early
definition of Grinding provided by the Biohack.Me Forum states,
Grinders practice functional
extreme body modification in an effort to improve the human
condition. We hack ourselves with electronic hardware to extend and
improve human capacities.” The Grinder movement has since become
far more inclusive. While electronic hardware is a prevalent modality
of grinding many projects are now incorporating biological,
pharmacological, and even genetic approaches. Admittedly, some of
these approaches are still only talk.. no actual genetic modification
has even been attempted for example (and for good reason).. but many
projects have been successful and some that are currently underway
appear very promising. In this article I’m going avoid discussing any
of the slue of unique biohacks and instead focus on one that is
nearly ubiquitous amongst Grinders: the Magnet Implant.
Intangible
No Longer
The introductory augment for the majority of Grinders takes the form of a very
small, but very powerful magnet implanted in the finger or lateral
pad of the hand.
Our ability
to perceive touch isn’t equally distributed but rather focused on the
areas of greatest importance. This focus is reflected in the
structure of the parietal lobe. The most anterior region of the
parietal lobe is the Primary Somatosensory cortex which is the main
sensory receptive area for the sense of touch. The preeminent
neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield, discovered this structure through
neural stimulation experiments. Penfield found that stimulation of
the anterior parietal region elicited reports of bodily sensations.
He mapped which parietal location coincided with which bodily area of
sensation and the outline that emerged is called the sensory
homunculus. 

 
The
sensory homunculus is a graphic representation of how much brain
matter is relegated to interpreting sensations from each area of the
body. The most densely innervated regions are the lips, the genitals,
and hands. These areas are rich in cells which convert physical
stimuli into the electrochemical language of neurons. There are four
main types of these mechanoreceptors, each sensitive to a different
type of stimulation. In terms of magnet implants, the receptor of
interest is the Merkel Nerve Ending. These are the most sensitive and
relay information pertaining to both texture and pressure. Merkel
Nerve Endings are particularly dense in three regions: the gentials,
the lips, and hands. 
 
This clustering of sensory ability at the finger tips explains how
the implantation of a magnet can be considered an augmentation. The
magnet certainly isn’t for aesthetics. Its function isn’t as mundane
as picking up small ferrous objects, although it allows for this as
well. Magnet implants allow recipients to detect the electromagnetic
spectrum effectively granting him or her a novel sensory modality. A
magnet implanted in the finger vibrates and moves when in the
presence of an electromagnetic field such as electric motors or
magnetic objects. This is detected by Merkel cells which translate
the movement into sensation. That’s right. These implants provide are
entirely new sensation. While I’m going to try to describe it to you,
if you haven’t felt it… this description is like describing red to
a blind man.
For the first 2-6 months following a magnet implantation, the
majority of grinders describe primarily a sense of either pressure or
vibration in the finger. This isn’t anything particularly ground
breaking as the magnet literally is either applying pressure or
vibrating. The more interesting effect don’t tend to begin until
after six months or so.
No research has been performed regarding magnet implants so little
of what I’m going to say here should be taken with anything more than
a grain a salt, but after a period of time the way that one perceives
input from a magnet implant changes. Rather than just a gross
mechanoreceptor effect, it really seems as if you can “feel” a
magnetic field. Furthermore, a magnetic field doesn’t “feel” the
way you’d expect. For example, we all know that magnetic fields like
gravity extend into infinity but this isn’t how a field feels. The
field produced by a permanent magnet feels like is has a definite
skin, a boundary as smooth as polished marble, electrically charged
like a wool sock, and yet totally intangible. Big DC transformers
like those found in microwave ovens produce one of the most
aesthetically pleasing fields, something like the fluttering of air
from a folding hand fan that sends shivers up your spine. And those
demagnetizers used at stores such as best buy to deactivate security
tags? They buzz just like an angry wasp. If I’m not paying attention,
I still jump and flail trying not to get stung. The best signals of
all can be found at hospitals and clinics. Working as an RN, I’m a
connoisseur. I stroll through radiology departments imbibing fields
like stinky cheese and fish eggs.
Aquistion
and Implantation
    Acquiring
and implanting a magnet isn’t as simple as it would seem. The next
three articles will address the main difficulties invovled: Choosing
the appropriate shape, type, and size of magnet with appropriately
biocompatible coating, the proper tools and supplies to perform a
precise and aseptic implantation, and the implantation procedure
itself. Choosing the right type of magnet is important simply because
placing a substandard Alnico horseshoe under the skin simple won’t
provide the sought after ability to sense magnetic fields. Having the
right coating is even more import. The best case scenario for a
failed coating is rejection and the worst is mild case of heavy metal
toxicity. Failure to use precise and aseptic technique can provide
exactly the opposite of what a Transhumnist seeks: a loss of function
rather than augmentation. In fact, the
easiest and perhaps safest method of acquisition is to have one
implanted by a body modification artist.
Saampa Von Cyborg is a Finnish body modification
artist and owner of Mad Max Tattoo and Piercing in Tampere,
Finland.
Cyborg is consider one of the preeminent body
modification experts world-wide and was amongst the first to
experiment with magnet implantation.
Contact: voncyb.org
Likely the most well known artist performing magnet implants is
Samppa Von Cyborg who seems to have been the innovator behind
implanted magnets. Cyborg is famous for pushing the boundaries of
body-modification. He was trained by a surgeon and has a rather
length list of firsts including flesh stapling, flesh coiling,
and flesh plating. Cyborg is also involved in performance art events
where he passes various sharp implements through his body and bodies
of others. I’ve heard that Cyborg sells his own magnets for
implantation but I haven’t been able to find the specs or cost.
Steve Haworth is major innovator in the the body
modification community. He is listed in the Guinness World Records
as “Most Advanced Body Modification Artist”, 1999 to
present.
Contact: Stevehaworth.com
Amongst
Americans body modification artists few are as celebrated as Steve
Haworth. The cost as of the time of writing this article for a single
implant was 200$ through Haworth, which includes the cost of the
coated magnet itself. The magnets used by Haworth are N52 Neodymium
Iron Boron magnets first coated in gold and then a layer of silicone.
Those specs might not means much to you now, but they’ll be discussed
in detail in the second magnet article. Silicone is rated as
acceptable for implantation but one can do better both in terms of
coating and magnet design. Haworth is involved in a number of other
interesting pursuits such as “body suspension” which is
essentially a modernization of a ritual performed by the “Mandan,”
a tribe indigenous to North Dakota that would hang its young men on
wooden skewers.
While Haworth and Cyborg are the most well-known, they are far from
the only modification artists who perform magnet implantation. A list
of body-modification artists who perform such procedures is available
on the site Biohack.me.
Now, there is another option. A different path from having someone
with experience and the prerequisite knowledge perform the procedure.
There are those foolish enough to want to do this for themselves. Let
me emphasize here that I’m not suggesting or in anyway promoting that
someone performs an implantation on themselves but for informational
purposes I’m going to write the last two articles in the form of an
instruction manual. To be clear, the list of things that can go wrong
are far too long to even list here. My inspiration for writing up the
step-by-step style of article is watching video after video online of
people using hobby knives in their kitchens to implant internet order
magnets with dubious coatings. A poorly performed procedure in an
unclean environment is just begging for infections and rejection. One
aspect of the Grinder community that’s changed over time is it’s
approach towards safety. Some of the early Grinders bragged about
putting objects coated in hot glue and Sugru in their bodies. This
type of risk taking may have been cool in 98, but the Grinder
community now advocates for the use of safe and proven equipment,
coatings, and procedures. While normally very inviting, open, and
willing to educate, the quickest way to being dismissed in the
Grinder community is the use of unsafe materials or technique. The
net has opened up access to all the materials and information one
would ever need so there is no excuse for incompetence.
The
Question Why
Outside of the Grinder community I don’t really advertise the fact
that I have magnet implants. The few times it’s come up I’m always
confused when people ask why. Why would someone want a magnet
implant? After explaining about sensing magnetic fields I assume it
all makes sense to the person, but then they repeat the question.
Why? Now, I could try to provide some function that justifies
a magnet implant. I’ve heard of electricians who claim to have gotten
a magnet to prevent being shocked by a live wire. I really don’t buy
it. The reason for a person wanting to be able to detect magnetic
fields should be self-evident. How can a person not be curious? If
someone could give you a candy with a completely unique flavor you’ve
never sampled wouldn’t you want to taste it? If a person could show
you a color you’d never seen before, wouldn’t you want to see it? In
1924, George Mallory was asked why he would want to climb Mount
Everest. I seriously wonder about the tone of voice in which he
answered, “Because it’s there.” Perhaps this is what sets a
Grinder apart. I for one can’t conceive of a life so vanilla that I’d
ask, “why would you want to know or experience something new?”
If forced to provide a more logical answer than “because it’s
there,” the reason I believe a magnet implant to be worthwhile
harkens back to the I2 of Dr. Leary’s SMI2LE. A
significant component of intelligence as defined as our ability to
create meaning is rooted in our sensory abilities, and as such I
believe the introduction of an entirely new modality or new set of
modalities may be the key to unlocking entirely new ways of thinking.
Cutting oneself and putting a little magnet in the resultant hole is
a small act but never in the history of man have we been able to
experience an entirely new sensory modality. Telescopes extend our
vision to the most distant stars and microscopes allow us to
visualize the very substrate with which our grand universe is built,
but a magnet implant will allow a person to perceive the angry
screams of the electromagnetic security pedestals at the entrance of
Best Buy.
There
is an old philosophical exercise which admonishes us to contemplate
the nature of chairs and tables. What makes a chair a chair and a
table a table? Obviously, it can’t be the number of legs or the mere
presence of a flat spot for setting objects. It’s not the function,
as a table doesn’t become a chair if sat upon. A chair without a
cushion is still a chair, right? Implants and prosthetics provide a
quite similar quandary as to what it means to be human. If I have
prosthetic limbs, am I still human? What about a prosthetic heart?
How much of my brain need be electronic before I am no longer a man?
It’s interesting to ponder. The outcome of mankind is similarly
interesting. Will mankind divide into Eloi and Morlochs or will a
comet hit us first? These are certainly fun mental exercises but too
many are content to stop there. Too many remain in their armchairs
thinking. Some, specifically Grinders, choose to be the future. This
may seem an overly grandiose statement as we really are just talking
about a magnet, but feeling the electromagnetic spectrum is
something that the non-augmented humans can’t do. In fact, it’s
something that the non-augmented can’t even truly imagine. I can
describe the stars seen through a telescope and any new flavor is
something like chicken but those who haven’t experienced a magnetic
field for themselves completely lack a point of reference. Magnet
implants provide us with the means to sense something previously
invisible and abstract. It’s likely not even as useful as having a
bottle-opener hand, but I can carry a bottle-opener in my pocket.
Sensing the electromagnetic spectrum, actually feeling it, is
something that no external device can provide and as such, this is an
augmentation worthy of consideration.

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