Tag Archives | Biotechnology

The Real Cyborgs

This article by Arthur House in The Telegraph reads like a William Gibson cyberpunk novel, but it’s reality, here and now. He says “Forget wearable tech. The pioneers of our “post-human” future are implanting technology in to their bodies and brains. Should we stop them or join them?”:

Ian Burkhart concentrated hard. A thick cable protruded from the crown of his shaven head. A sleeve sprouting wires enveloped his right arm. The 23 – year-old had been paralysed from the neck down since a diving accident four years ago. But, in June this year, in a crowded room in the Wexner Medical Centre at Ohio State University, Burkhart’s hand spasmed into life.

At first it opened slowly and shakily, as though uncertain who its owner was. But when Burkhart engaged his wrist muscles, its upward movement was sudden and decisive. You could hear the joints – unused for years – cracking.

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Brave New Biohacking

GH LogoShadJessica Firger describes the cyberpunk underground science dungeon making history with a biosensor device, for Al Jazeera America:

PITTSBURGH — In the basement of a suburban two-story house on a quiet road just outside Pittsburgh, six mostly self-taught scientists tinker with an assortment of computer parts and electric equipment. They plan one day on becoming cyborgs — a future that may be closer than you think.

They are Grindhouse Wetware — three men and three women — and they describe themselves as a “ragtag group of programmers, engineers and enthusiasts” who build cybernetic devices. They find inspiration in both current technology and science fiction.

“I don’t want to go to space in a spaceship. I want to be a spaceship,” said Tim Cannon, Grindhouse’s 34-year-old co-founder whose basement serves as the group’s headquarters and scientific lab.

Today, at an international body-modification conference in Essen, Germany, Grindhouse will make history as the first in the DIY-science community — i.e., not affiliated with any academic institution or corporation — to develop and implant an interactive electronic device in a human being.

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Scientist Wants Military to Close the ‘Mutant Gap’ With Biomodded Soldiers

Picture: Vitruvian Man - Da Vinci (PD)

Nothing to see here, citizen. Go watch some more television while we quietly build our biomodded super soldiers.

Via WIRED:

Greater strength and endurance. Enhanced thinking. Better teamwork. New classes of genetic weaponry, able to subvert DNA. Not long from now, the technology could exist to routinely enhance — and undermine — people’s minds and bodies using a wide range of chemical, neurological, genetic and behavioral techniques.

It’s warfare waged at the evolutionary level. And it’s coming sooner than many people think. According to the futurists at the U.S. National Intelligence Council, by 2030, “neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Brain-machine interfaces could provide ‘superhuman‘ abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.”

Qualities that today must be honed by years of training and education could be installed in a relative instant by, say, an injection or a targeted burst of electricity to the brain.

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Mushroom Death Suit

5934717321_bb03e77a6d_bSomeday the lifeless bodies of all of us may be laid into the cold earth zipped snugly in the outfit at right. Artist Jae Rhim Lee designed her mushroom burial suit to address how we part with the dead — “By trying to preserve the body we poison the living.” The garment is embedded with spores of toxin-cleaning, flesh-eating mushrooms that will consume the corpse wearing it, leaving the earth cleansed and renewed as we make our exit:

The first prototype of the Infinity Burial Suit is a body suit embroidered with thread infused with mushroom spores. The embroidery pattern resembles the dendritic growth of mushroom mycelium. The Suit is accompanied by an Alternative Embalming Fluid, a liquid spore slurry, and Decompiculture Makeup, a two-part makeup consisting of a mixture of dry mineral makeup and dried mushroom spores and a separate liquid culture medium. Combining the two parts and applying them to the body activates the mushroom spores to develop and grow.

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BacillaFilla: The Bacteria That Could Make You Grow Concrete In Your Mouth

ASR cracks concrete step barrier FHWA 2006Annalee Newitz reports from the frontier of biotechnology for io9.com, asking a very pertinent question:

A group of UK students have engineered a new bacteria they call BacillaFilla. It swarms into concrete cracks, then secretes a gluey mixture that hardens into concrete filler. But what if this bacteria escaped into the wild and started reproducing?

Newitz describes the way that BacillaFilla works and concludes:

But what happens when that future arrives, and workers accidentally inhale some of that BacillaFilla? Maybe it lands on their teeth, whose calcium content is close enough to being like concrete that suddenly you’ve got workers with a mouthful of concrete. Or maybe you’ll start to see walls and bridges growing tumors: Places where the BacillaFilla didn’t stop growing after the cracks were filled in.

Pretty scary stuff!

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