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The BioCurious Hazard

The Art, Science & Philosophy of Transhumanism, Biohacking & The Quantified Self

Transhumanism, Euthanasia and Risk Acceptance

       Before I begin I would emphasise this is a gross simplification and I am narrowly discussing Euthanasia with a correlation to contingencies for extreme self experimentation.

       Securing the legal rights is of vital significance within the H+ community – bodily autonomy, Morphological freedom and cognitive liberty; these are somewhat recurring themes. Something often overlooked (perhaps due to the messy nature of rhetoric) is the right to terminate oneself under specific circumstances; debatably the biggest indicator of bodily autonomy.
      I would posit that the right to Active Euthanasia (Active Euthanasia i.e assisted suicide) is a favourable right to ensure transhumanist liberties in the future, and Risk Acceptance is the most viable metric for assessment.

      I have an inkling that Libertarian Transhumanists would be prime supporters of assisted suicide but for Extropians and democratic transhumanists the issue is not clear cut. I would implore consideration to be weighed sooner than later. Primarily, there is an outright morphological freedom argument to be made – but contextually this correlates to termination under the individual’s calculation of utility and risk acceptance pertaining to extreme experimentation.

       In simpler terms, if in the future, people choose to engage in extreme transhuman experimentation to the point of self-destruction, then those people should ensure they have the right to terminate themselves should the process/result become overwhelmingly undesirable (to the individual, barring affect on other parties).

      Intuitively this is antithetical to the end goals of H+ Schools such as Abolitionism and Hedonism but I suspect this is contrary to the result, not the process itself.


      When engaging with proactionary self-experimentation, risk control is a major concern – however Risk Acceptability to the individual is an overlooked proponent.

       Health is not everything to everyone. This may be indicative of why transhumanism splits into so many families. Many transhumanists consider Happy > Healthy. This is not to say happy and healthy are mutually exclusive – but in cases where this applies, the risk acceptance should be in the hands of the individual. Similar to how we balance cosmetic surgery, in-vivo contraceptives and alcohol/cigarettes (albeit this is more complex re: addiction but still pertaining to a similar end).
       Considering this, Risk Acceptance within Transhumanism experimentation (and within Euthanasia) is an overlooked and under stressed element. Precautionary medicine only accounts for magnitude and probability of risk but not a willingness to accept it. This Risk Acceptance (whilst not exclusively progressive) is our ethical responsibility regarding the conscious evolution of humans and I would prefer this remain at the individual’s discretion. I would posit this risk acceptability should be extrapolated to basic transhuman rights/technologies applying this to modifications but ultimately, accountability over risk of death – even at the hands on oneself in a worst case scenario.

      On the grounds that Transhumanism has an element of conscious evolution, this risk acceptability when facing ‘genetic cul de sacs’ should explored vehemently as a turning point of importance. Control over one’s autonomy – including the right to die should be recognised as exceedingly important especially when pertaining to future circumstances resulting in unforeseen consequences. Of course, I wouldn’t espouse this to facetiously – it’s self-evidently complex – there should be a barrage of unincluded caveats in this post. But currently I don’t believe our societal and political infrastructure supports potential contingencies needed for realistic ethical self experimentation – hence why it is seen as somewhat ‘underground’.

       The specific unforeseen consequence that sparked this post was the hypothetical experimentation of a neural lace. Frankly – if I was to engage in preliminary testing (of which I am willing under certain requirements) and the result is akin to a digital lobotomy, I would want an exit plan. If religion or political beliefs can intercede on an individual’s treatment, it seems fitting philosophical beliefs be extended the same degree of importance. For me, a Digital lobotomy is a fate worse than death, but I would be willing to undertake the risk in regards to a wider goal (dependant on probability of failure of course).

       Understandably the medical system, from a utilitarian perspective, can’t be expected to just give resources to people that willingly hurt themselves (or at least those who are intelligent enough to realise what they are doing). But in the response to this, there is a much greater risk here associated with the utilitarian approach to medical treatment on these grounds as a zero-tolerance policy is unrealistic.

      If the medical industry can’t/won’t help – two scarily realistic alternatives involve,

A) Underground industry potentially leading to outright dangerous scenarios.
B) Private industry leading to particularly absurd insurance costs to negate risk management.


       The later pertains to great importance re: a class divide via tech, but I digress.

       Upon reaching this point – my transhumanist ethics come into direct question – for each school of transhumanist thought, ethical arguments can be made. The acceptability of options A and B are dependant on the school of transhumanism one subscribes to; I can see this hypothetical being useful in deciphering where one’s intentions lie. For the sake of discussion, widespread medical acceptable for risk accountability in these circumstances is Option C.
       Intuitively, I can consider A and B to be a wastage of public and personal utility. However, I believe this may be entirely too narrow spectrum of thinking.

      To the Democratic transhumanist – option C is desireable as the overall process involves the average joe having an opportunity to ‘keep up’. I would posit currently, this is the most synchronous to the current medical industry (or at least how it’s presented in Australia).

      To the Libertarian transhumanist – option A (or B) may be the most ethical path. Ignoring the notion libertarians to a degree reject government regulations, these options allow for growth outside regulation and legality. Zero tolerance is unrealistic hence underground culture is almost entirely independant, whilst private industry can support growth and ultimately influence law as opposed to law influencing growth.

      However, to the Extropian I imagine it could be entirely dependent on the context of all options. Options A and B provide an environment closest to a ‘Transhuman arms race’ – this gives the individual willing to take the biggest risk the biggest advantage. It seems amenable that Extropians support whatever provides the human race with ‘the best tech’ regardless of political circumstance. A hardcore extropian may not consider mandatory government ‘upgrades’ as a bad thing if a few years of suffering ultimately improves the human condition  undeniably for sequential generations.

      I expected transhumanist philosophy to give me grounds for a more decisive argument, it has only served to demonstrate how contextual the argument is. Each Transhumanist theory does provide insights into favorability and probability of potential transhuman rights, but only once enough variables are controlled that the hypothetical becomes practically useless. Only the subsequent generations of Transhumanist Anthropologists can make judgement on literal context. We are in the eye of the storm.

      To reiterate and conclude, I cannot wholeheartedly agree with a generalisation regarding Euthanasia within Transhuman rights but I would press contextual importance. Predictably, the development of Risk Acceptability will be an organic process and it would be wise to avoid and homogenisation of opinion amongst Transhumanist philosophies – as this would result in the homogenisation of evolutionary potential. I believe the most useful tool in avoiding this would be for the individual to establish their metric for Risk Acceptance and to attempt to secure your own right to die under certain circumstances – realistically, this is the only way to organically grow the acceptance of this choice without impacting others.

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Off Topic: Cryptocurrency and Divergent Evolution

      Whilst it’s a little off topic – I’ve always considered democratisation, choice and knowledge are the key factors in ethical progression of technology. And whilst I’m not a reductionist, in relation to technological determinism, these elements outline an evolution in our possibilities.
      I would be so bold to claim (at least in western society) we don’t vote with out ‘vote’ – we vote with our dollar. And with some new ‘dollars’ only being useful within a specific infrastructures – as a proactionary individual, the futurist in me musters a diabolical smirk.

     Smirking with delicious irony. We not only vote with our dollar-

    We vote on the dollar, to which we want to vote with.

     I understand that sounds convoluted. By this I mean that emerging cryptocurrencies are holding significant growth in terms of utility – and at such minimal stages – those concerned with the progression with technology can now more consciously direct said utility.

      Firstly, I must pay my dues. FIAT currencies operate on a grand scale however it’s undeniable that geo proximity and laziness allow us to slide into fiscal contentment – or at least I personally only attempted to do just what I needed to get by without diversifying. Personally I lose motivation to ‘invest’ (used very loosely) in FIAT when so much of said investment is wasted on things that are antithetical to my beliefs.

      Having said this FIAT currencies do have a place, as imperfect as the system is. I do expect the ongoing maintenance of roads and public services and hence, am happy to pay tax. I have my FIAT investment backed by a federal reserve and a military – so that’s definitely great as a blue chip whereas cryptos can fluctuate to a horrific degree.

     To be somewhat parabolic, There is something I trust more than the limbic-crutch that is theoretical gold – Math.

     Bitcoin and Ethereum as emerging technology are place markers for blockchain technology. Realistically (as Kurzweil notes), whilst the aforementioned cryptos are volatile – the technology itself is beginning to ripen for widestream adoption. China’s already trying it.

     Personally, from this perspective, a nuance in attitude emerged. Predictive investment becomes somewhat non-existent when such a volatile market can plummet and rise within seconds due to a single trader. Additionally, corporatism and privatized economies heavily affect the investment climate. So what are am I actually voting on?

      I would posit it is the infrastructure of aforementioned algorithms. Most apt framework lying somewhere between voting, gambling and investment. When you invest in a coin, it’s apt to consider that you are not simply buying said currency and supporting the infrastructure for use/mining, but also ‘investing’ (albeit indirectly) into any hard fork currencies.

     This is not something to glibly ignore, we are witnessing the conscious application of technological survival of the fittest in a blatantly exploitable fashion. When currencies hard-fork and spawns ‘divergent’ evolution it would be advisable to assess and invest in future generations the moment they diverge, similar to a day trader but under very specific circumstances.

     Knowledge of when cryptos begin to diverge therefore is invaluable. When a hard-fork occurs we witness a mutation within the evolution of said coin, and it’s the only variation within the technology itself that we have some economic predictive capability of! Hence, it would be wise to schedule some alerts regarding specific thresholds on coins.

     Furthermore, the investment model has had its entry levels dramatically reduced. This investment into a standing or different crypto, is essentially available to everyone – not just traditional investors.

    Investment of this variety was previously only available at a stock percentage buy-in.  As the ‘buy-in’ itself is an utility generator, accessibility has been surrendered to the the public.

     Entry level requirements for investment are nearly non-existent.

     I come to the essence of my point – We are/could be witnessing the emergence of such prolific technologies at an incomprehensibly low level. Consider its possibilities akin to using the internet when it was just a decentralised intelligence network and making an investment in one of the first ‘modems’.
Low entry level investment (Specifically in divergent cryptos) can be viewed as an investment in their ‘strain’ of technological infrastructure and not simply “buying a coin that may be worth something someday”.


     With cryptos, one can direct utility and investment towards the ‘technology strain’ that’s most amenable regarding fruition or even the most probable. And one of these blockchain algorithms, will be a diamond in the rough (at least until quantum computing). I’m not overly enthused about corporatism – but at minimum, it’s an influencial variable – and I don’t think it’s foolish for one to place a few bets.

Soylent. The lesser of two evils.

      To be parabolic and overly-dramatic, I hate food. So I started eating a nutrient rich sludge.

      To expand on that point, I don’t actually hate food – I’m simply frustrated by the utility of food consumption. Deciding, purchasing, preparing, consuming, cleaning and digesting – I’d prefer a set batteries to switch out and be done with it.

      Whilst I have great self-control in many areas, when it comes to basic functioning I lack serious motivation. Eating, Drinking, exercise – I remain unmotivated. It’s not uncommon for me not to eat to the point of passing out. Rest assured this is not a result of body dysmorphia or the like – I am simply abhorred by the act eating.
      And I’ve found myself doing an Olympian-level performance of mental gymnastics to avoid it.

      However I digress. After living on nicotine, caffeine and the occasional snack for roughly a decade – I began experimenting with DIY Soylent. Primarily with a DIY soylent known as Melb-lent due to the accessability of the products.

       I had slight concerns regarding the Upper Limit (Ul) on certain vitamins however most of the ‘risky’ vitamins (Sodium, chloride, magnesium – information available from National Health and Medical Research Council.) demand an intake of the 300% before adverse reactions occur. The only excess 300%+ for RDI is for phosphorus: I was slightly concerned about this but the the UL tolerance for this vitamin is about 500%-600%.

      The realistic concern for soylent is from the lack of phyto and micro nutrients. An understandable concern – unsurprisingly I’ve had a few mortified nutritionists advise against this.
      However this concern comes from the angle that I appear healthy and hence, assumedly have a health diet.

      I’m not and I don’t. I don’t get my phyto or micro nutrients. Period. I only get about 35% of my RDI as it is.
I am progressing from barely anything to something – and that is at least amenable.

     As I am writing this, I am excited as I begin my soylent diet again. My preliminary tests revealed great results. Over the past 3 months –  


1 month on Soylent full time
1 month on Soylent for one meal
1 month returning to pre-soylent diet.


      The pro’s for soylent were almost immediately apparent – I felt a remarkable state of energy, this outlining how much of my RDI I was actually missing. My productivity was up, I had impulses to exercise, and most notable to everyone else – I had moved 8% closer to my ideal weight (was/am underweight). Both productivity and health had quantifiable metrics indicating improvement.

       Stoic motivation powered me through the first 3 weeks. I was slamming it down. After 3 weeks however, arose a strange juxtaposition.
      The Stoicism had worn off. I was left with the unappetising task of consuming a meal that, upon a cursory glance, looked like a slurry of granulated mud.
      At least it looked like sandy mud, like that from the ocean – not from a swamp.
      In retrospect, the dopamine that would have previously driven my appetite was replaced by rewards revolving around productivity and stoicism – once the novelty had worn off, I was left without a chemical reward for necessary consumption.

I was caught between a rock and hard place for the 2nd month –

AuslentCU.png

       I was torn between the dopamine of a burrito that would ultimately leave me unsatisfied or the energy of a nutrient rich mud, the last 8th of which, would be poured down the sink as my retching reaches maximises frustration.
A paradox.

       On the 3rd month, when I returned to a ‘real’ diet I was admittedly enjoying food for the first time in a decade – it was expensive, but also a welcome experience. I didn’t really ‘get’ it until then; now I can understand people’s dedication to food.

       Unfortunately, it was undeniable that my energy and motivation was lacking. Its evident that much of my motivation isn’t primarily internally driven, but can simply can be reduced to fuel. If I gathered anything from these preliminary tests it is that whilst my cerebral motivation is always willing, the body however, can be lacking.

      Now I am re-adjusting to the soylent diet again – and whilst I still struggle to down the concoction, my energy levels and productivity have already phenomenally improved over the past few days.

       In conclusion, given that my typical diet does not even meet 50% of the recommended RDI, Soylent is a great alternative. It would be unwise not to mention; this is not for everyone – if you can manage a real, healthy diet I would encourage such. But if you’re just looking to top up you RDI, it’s an option.

      Subsequent testing may yield quantifiable results worth sharing, but limit metrics have only encouraged viability not extended usage.

L33t Upgrades: The FlexNT Beta

Very excited to log My FlexNT arrived! Graciously supplied by Dangerous Things this little package is indicative of evolving in-vivo technology. The most notable progression is that it will require minor surgery to install.

Psychologically, I formed an unusual continency I hadn’t anticipated. Due to the nature of my biohacking pursuits (i.e. to further the field itself) when approaching implantation I’ve always, ALWAYS decided outright on an experienced installer necessary, primarily for the sake of the experiment and furthermore for argument and safety sake.

A strong focus of mine is safe installation. As implants become increasingly common (but more succinctly) increasingly advantageous installers will become a necessity to minimise risk. We’ve come to a point where the chips can be produced out of a garage and culturally, it’s not unheard of for grinders to implant themselves.

Whilst culturally this is acceptable, within wider society – this makes people uncomfortable. However, I would posit that most grinders DIY attitude is not strictly due to culture and cultural capital but is heavily catalysed by a lack of safe installation facilities. In my experience I’ve found professionals, even body modders, that are unphased but unwilling to participate.

So iterate the point in a colloquial metaphor: We need safe injection rooms.

Ethically, finding installation raised a curious notion – if I can’t find a willing installer with minor-surgeon skills… will I have to install it myself?
For the sake of my virtue remaining in tact I may have too.


Aesthetically, the flex immediately gives a more medical impression – anecdotally a glint of insight illuminated in a conversation with my mother. Showing people the NTi injection assembly had always freaked people out – the twitches on their face, the tweak of an eye, the nuance of the tone – repulsion was near impossible to hide.

My mother had been a previously guilty of such behaviour – funnily, when I showed her the FlexNT, comfortably sitting in a sterilized container, she didn’t flinch. If her previous revulsion (the xNTi) had not been so constant, then the lack of any visual disgust would not have been so striking! I immediately acknowledged this and she revealed that it simply looked more medical and hence, appealing.
I suppose it depends on which establishments you actually trust, even if it is influenced by aesthetics. However I digress.

To reiterate, self installation is not a contingency I was prepared for. And in the interest of transparency I must confess – I was excited at the possibility of me needing to perform surgery on myself. Never had that feeling before. I wasn’t about to jump at it – it’s an absolute last resort, but a last resort I could pull valuable data and experience from.

Before this, the plan of attack is has been decided on. I plan to scout possibilities and obstacles through interviews with a Doctor, a Nurse, a Med Student, a Dermatologist and our trusty lawyers.
From here I can source more progressive doctors,
Failing that, convince a doc/nurse to do it anonymously (I believe there is a slight chance)

Failing that – self-surgery.

I don’t necessarily think the later is a good option, but it’s a viable one. My main objection in the medical arena would rely on the notion that 100% risk prevention isn’t realistic, people will do it themselves, hence future risk mitigation is a must.
I would feel some cognitive dissonance asserting such things if I knew I personally wasn’t willing to implant myself.
I’m being fallacious here as an Argument for Hypocrisy is what I cling to…but there’s something about talking the talk but not walking the walk that doesn’t sit right with me.


FlexNT instillation will be a common hurdle to many grinders as unfortunately it requires skills akin to surgery, a skillset most are not willing to engage in unless out of necessity.

I would like to digress into the historical context of body modification, but for now I will reveal in the whimsy that one person’s upgrade is another person’s self mutilation.

Stackin’ Noots: Caffeine + L-Theanine

Stackin Noots: L-Theanine; when a strength becomes a weakness

I decided to test out the infamous L-Theanine + Caffeine stack for 2 weeks, at roughly a 1:1 ratio, to test further viability. Admittedly the tests were all intuition, no metrics.

For a quick introduction to L-Theanine please check this PubMed abstract
For those who embrace TL:DR, Its the amino acid in Tea – boosting Alpha states without drowsiness. Realistically notable in higher doses.

Caffeine tablets will be used in subsequent experiments to determine the most effective ratio but initially a few weeks were needed to test the viability of the Nootropic stack. I don’t have a spectrometer handy so I the exact caffeine content in my coffee is unpredictable – for now I shall measure in cups like a barbarian.

The L-Theanine + Caffeine stack produced considerable results, but more notably, presented an unexamined risk with Nootropic Experimentation. In retrospect, the stack was so effective that it had disguised the negative effects of my biological feedback loop.

What did this meant in practice: It meant that I consumed 3-4 times my normal daily caffeine content, and without a ‘crash’. When it came time to eat, I couldn’t even tell I was low on fuel.

That was bad. Admittedly, it would be important to note here I have impulse control issues and a general distaste for food. I enjoy flavour, but when I consider the utility of acquisition, consumption, digestion and cleaning needed for regular food consumption I often decide “Fuck it, I’ll have another cigarette and coffee”. I do experiment with Soylent to some success but that’s a whole another post.
I found the L-theanine actually wears off faster than the coffee – but if you’re perpetually drinking the stack it continues to hide withdrawal from caffeine.


The amalgamation of this distaste for food consumption, Impulse control issues and the wondrous effects of L-Theanine resulted in a heavy crash. It’s not uncommon for me to wait until the afternoon or night to eat. In this case, I left food consumption for so long that it was to my detriment. I got dizzy, had a sickly feeling and cognitive function took a hard nosedive. I occasionally indulge in a caffeine binge and crash hard – however by the end of the day, the crash not equivalent to the amount of caffeine I consumed – it was considerably less.

It was evident that my biological feedback loop was being effected – without the feedback warning me, the need to eat was more readily overlooked than usual.

As far as the positive effects go – it was quite effective. I found that…
1. I had phenomenal focus without any skittishness or jitters. It wasn’t quite the tunnel focus found in stims but a wide, clear focus
2. Not only was the ability to focus improved but the ability to choose what to focus on was also improved, I could switch easily between focus’ when needed without ‘bleed in’ from what I was previously focusing on.
3. The focus allowed for the Scale and Scope of any project to be considered within a ‘fuller’ context – funnily enough I would usually have considered this to be something to do with glutamate as my memory seemed to be standing to attention (minor creatine supplements were being used), however considering that the Theanine was the only real variable I would conclude I could simply ‘focus’ on my memory. It’s also possible to chalk this up to a placebo effect, not necessarily due to the Theanine but the retention of motivation over an extended period.

When comparing the negative to the positive effects it’s evident (anecdotally) that the L-Theanine + Caffeine stack IS effective HOWEVER the problem with it was a personal one. For me it was a lack of mental discipline and intellectual curiosity coupled the exploitation of the nootropics ability to cover the negative effects of coffee.

Friendly Neighbourhood Cyborg – My experience with the xNT Implant

         My appearance on the News was predictably too whimsical for my liking – I’d like to use this post to address context and the nuanced divide between “what is does” and “why I got it“.

The Instillation

       Weeks ago I got my implant – and whilst I don’t like dealing in anecdotes, people are naturally curious about personal experience.

       I elected to go the Piercing urge in Melbourne Victoria. I’ve been into body modification for about a decade and for at least the past 9 the The Piercing Urge had always emerged as one of the most professional and experienced studios in NSW/Victoria.

Pete Sheringham a piercer with 25 years experience
who has installed at least 30 so far conducted the procedure with a remarkable absence of pain.

     The intrusive part of the procedure itself took less than a minute. In the interest of transparency, I would indicate that the procedure took longer than usual as the implant itself did not exit the needle entirely upon first insertion.

      At this point I will reiterate the importance of going to an experienced professional and touch on the necessity of the implant ‘pocket’ during installation.

       Installation Note: The Pocket is where the needle creates a space for the implant by penetrating the dermis and subsequently being retracted slightly. This displacement allowing a locations the implant to comfortably sit. On a related sidenote, this process illustrates why serious piercers tend to stay away from piercing guns and why the injector assembly maximises efficiency of the procedure – hollow needles themselves create a space for the foreign material to sit, whereas guns use brute force, to create the negative space.

     This may explain why anecdotally I found that this ‘piercing’, regarding pain, was non existent when compared to any other piercings. . I’ve had gun and needle piercings and needles have always been less painful and better healing. (Admittedly, this area of the hand does avoid major nerves)

      Healing

      The healing process was uneventful and I barely bruised from the procedure. Pre-natal will internally help with the process and I’ve know people to use Bio-oil so ensure there was no scarring.

      I found over the first one or two days – I experienced a slight ‘tingle’, but could not ‘feel’ the implant inside the hand, I kept checking its presence (monitoring possible migration) from the outside. Movement of the tag under the skin was not painful or noticeable – by now I can push it up against the dermis to reveal the outline with no irritation or pain.

      In regard to how long before I used the Implant – I was ten meters from the piercing studio before I had tested and secured the tag. Remember: Securing the tag is the first thing to do.

     Why.

        For myself, what I USE it for and WHY I got it are two different issues.
        I use the tag itself as a NFC key (for NFC locks) and a Virtual Business Card (Automatic input of contact details) – conveniently as I work at an NFC company I find many uses for NFC in everyday life so I will experiment with it as ideas arise but frankly, at the moment it’s quite ‘useful’ so I haven’t experimented as frequently as I expected.

      Why I got the Implant has to do with my Philosophy. As a Transhumanist, I would posit that Biohacking is the embodiment of applied Transhumanism.

       On this scale, more of a lean forward than a step.
I intend embrace the risks of Implants (strictly within elective self-experimentation) in order to achieve greater insight regarding the future application of this technology.
I need rational and empirical evidence before I can nudge it in a more amenable direction. (I would also note that the ‘risk’ of this implant in particular is not a concern, this philosophy will become more apt as implants progress.)

      Furthermore, once I can derive rational and empirical evidence – I will simultaneously be in an informed position to make decision take practical action where necessary. I am not glib about this – unforeseen dangers exist with any new technology. However this is not like an automated machine you can hurl your shoes into – regardless, the machine would keep spinning. Since the technology exists, people will choose to augment. Whether that’s a curious biohacker in his garage or, perhaps parabolically, a secret government lab. Its unrealistic to think everyone will ever think and act the same way.
The best disinfectant for bad ideas is sunlight, this is the main reason I would favour the democratisation of science – the choice, the knowledge and access to this tech is vital to make informed decisions and practical efforts regarding its future.

      Realistically, the data I will draw from this experience is not just for myself, but for any persons who can extrapolate something useful from the data.

A semantic argument: Augmentation v Enhancement

            Please forgive me while I argue with myself…

Currently it appears that within the Transhuman community, the terms “Augmentation” and “Enhancement” are loosely interchangeable, and are more readily defined as needed within the rhetoric itself

          The subjectivity of the english language may be instrumental in alleviating the tensions that bio-luddites harbour again biohacking or transhumanist.
I hate to blindly submit to argumentum ad populum, but if dictionaries are indeed descriptive and not prescriptive (i.e. popular usage dictates meaning) then in everyday conversations we have opportunities to nudge syntax in an amenable direction, at least in the English language.

         Without postulating about synaptic associations, neuroplasticity, and the malleability of human language I would posit that,

         “Regarding Experimental Biohacking technologies; Augmentation should be the preferential term over Enhancement”

         I justify this considering both shortcomings of usage and effect regarding the word Enhancement.

        Descriptive weakness of Enhancement: Whether the technology is enhancement or not would be more reliably concluded in retrospect. 10 years of electromagnetism vs 15 years of heavy metal poisoning may not qualify as enhancement. I.e. leave it to the anthropologists.

      Exacerbations of hostility towards Other: Unfortunately, it seems a recurring pattern in human nature that the ‘other’ generally spooks the mainstream population.
In theory, an Other under the description “enhanced” implies a difference wherein the ‘enhanced’ party is better. This undeniable this will subliminally exacerbate the negative effects of the divide.

       I’ve pondered this for a while and intuitively I agree with the posit.
This makes me suspicious. Am I pushing a bias?

       Considering this I should like to make a case for Enhancement and subsequently, explore the divide between the words. My first posits seemingly just discredit Enhancement in favour of Augmentation – surely Enhancement has some pros!

       So. Why use would the word Enhancement be better regarding usage and effect?
I would posit

       Inseparability of H+ and STEM field: Enhancement is already in usage within stem fields to refer to Human Enhancement Technology. It already has practical definition. I would not posit this on the basis of traditionalism and time immemorial – but for the sake of consistency and non-convolution. If the developers of what we would class ‘transhuman technologies’ refer to them as HET – then it seems logical it is continued to avoid any confusion between the developer and user considering the importance of interaction between the two parties.

      Descriptive Philosophical disposition: it could be argued that using Enhancement in regard to the Homosapien species is more amenable to Augmentation when considering individual bias towards change.

      Enhancement implies the improvement of Humans. Change as Improvement.
      Augmentations implies the changing of Humans. Change as Difference.

      To extrapolate the point, it cultivates a shift toward being better humans as opposed a shift from being human. It is arguable that Enhancement more accurately represents the overall goals of transhumanism – to improve the human condition.

     Within consideration of both words, my main focus appear to be the practical usage of the word, and subsequently the sociological effects.

      As far as practical usage of these terms, the problems with the division are raised through the ambiguity and interchangeability of the words.
The definition of Enhancement technologies within STEM fields should have some continuity between the developer and the user – its practical – engaging in rhetoric where there is an unaddressed divide between academic usage and prescriptive definitions; often feels like a shifting of the goal post or a bait-and-switch.
Admittedly, as someone who studied at a tertiary level, I am guilty of this as well.

      However, this particular difficulty of discernment between the two definitions can be addressed in a question,

     If I referred to HET as Human Augmentation Technologies to academics and developers- would this impede the rhetoric?

     I would posit it would not, on the grounds there is a higher probability that the academic would understand what the layman meant, but a lower probability of the layman understanding the wider academic context.
Everyone has been a layman, not everyone have been an developer. Academic definition within rhetoric may be useful, but not as practical in everyday usage.

      In regard to a wider effect on society, the former arguments appear to imply

     Augmentation fosters less of a sociological divide via the implication of being ‘different’, not ‘better’.
     Enhancement fosters the spirit of long-term Transhuman goals to be better ‘humans’.
Putting these two together, whilst I hate reductionist behaviour, I believe we can reduce it to a simple psychosociological premise –

     Is it more apt for the rhetoric to placate fears and reduce friction or to encourage and inspire Transhumanism?

     Unfortunately, I can’t objectively answer this and evidently, it’s all conjecture. From my position (postulating that Transhumanism is an process or action not an ideology of belief that it is inherently good) I would posit that the former is a ‘better’ use, on the grounds that,

     The main obstacle of Transhumanism is not it ‘happening’ – it’s already happening – those inspired and encouraged will the inspired or encouraged regardless. The main obstacle is ‘fear’ of it happening which I would be so bold to say distills hate and subsequently persecution.

     Following this premise, the most amenable and efficient development for both parties (forgive the false dichotomy of Transhuman enthusiasts and Bio-luddites) would involve working together to minimise risk and maximise potential.
The implicit meaning behind Augmentation facilitates neutral ground more than the word Enhancement.

In conclusion – I am somewhat partial to Augmentation over the word Enhancement.

      I can understand the usage of the word can be used interchangeably, however if we are not explicit in an academic context for definition – it should be accurate to the lowest common denominator (the layman) and furthermore, should outline what it is not what we want it to be. Augmentation should precede Enhancement on the grounds that change must occur before it can be deemed good or bad.

     Regarding wider psychosociological ramifications of the word – I stand by the posit that Augmentation fosters more neutral grounds for rhetoric and development than the word Enhancement, as when used as an adjective, Enhancement has implicit hierarchical functionality whereas augmentation simply outlines difference.

[If anyone can provide the legitimate source for the Display Image I would greatly appreciate a link – to attribution and to explore the artists work]

Quantified Self, IFTTT & NFC: The Process

          Considering many my posts will undeniably be grandiose suppositions and unconscious sophistry I would like to provide something practical solution for your attention!

           I’ve been experimenting with methodologies to log events and/or metrics in the most efficient manner. In the interest of disclosure, I would note that I am the Sales Manager of NFC Wireless Australia so access to the technology wasn’t a hurdle.

Most of these tags log the data to a spreadsheet – subsequently most of this data is logged to the aggregate QA spreadsheet.

I use NFC tags to quantify myself by measuring and logging time metrics regarding the most basic functions.

Wake/Sleep cycles
Calorie Consumption
Water Consumption
Caffeine and Nicotine
Bathroom stops
Work-on/Work-off

Find the anecdotal recount here.

          Quantification via NFC requires the combination of hardware and web-services.
The hardware: Phone and Tags
Services and Software: Encoding Application, Google Account and Drive, IFTTT, MAKER within IFTTT.


          Primarily, creation of a google sheet is necessary – pretty self explanatory.
Secondly, IFTTT provides the services needed to log time events with NFC tags. After establishing the necessary profiles – the IFTTT formula is,

IF = Maker application
THEN = Google Drive – Add new line to google spreadsheet.

This ‘add line function’ – Can be split into two variables being a static log or an on/off function. For the static log function, it’s easy enough and will automatically create a spreadsheet if one doesn’t exist. In order to function as on/off or in/out this formula must be used


[+Add ingredient] = OCCOUREDAT

Followed by
||| =IF(ISODD(ROW()), “Started”, “Stopped”) ||| =IF(ISEVEN(ROW()),ROUND(((DATEVALUE(REGEXEXTRACT(INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW(),COLUMN()-2,4)), “\w+ \d{2}, \d{4}”)) + TIMEVALUE(REGEXEXTRACT(INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW(),COLUMN()-2,4)), “\d{2}:\d{2}[A|P]M$”))) – ( DATEVALUE(REGEXEXTRACT(INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW()-1,COLUMN()-2,4)), “\w+ \d{2}, \d{4}”)) + TIMEVALUE(REGEXEXTRACT(INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW()-1,COLUMN()-2,4)), “\d{2}:\d{2}[A|P]M$”)))) * 24, 2),””)


            In the interest of disclosure, this is not my formula – it has been pulled from other MAKER apps after a long night of troubleshooting – hence the exact MAKER app eludes me.



           The MAKER webhook will call this function – this can be found in the Maker service Settings (IFTTT Settings>Services>Maker). From memory this was a pain in the ass but the webhook url will look like

            https://maker.ifttt.com/use/(your account URL number, it will appear in settings in MAKER)

           In order for the webhook to perform the function –

            https://maker.ifttt.com/trigger/(spreadsheetname)/With/key/(your account URL)

            Depending on the application the url would need to be changed to the desired spreadsheets name. Once we have this URL, we can encode this to an NFC tags.

            For the layman, NFC Tasks and NFC tools (from Wakdev) is what I would recommend due to the simplicity of the UI. For those who are computer savvy I would suggest NXP TagInfo and TagWriter. As NXP are manufacturers of these tags it’s a very powerful app. Once one of the applications are loaded up it is simply a matter of encoding the webhook.



             Smartlocks deserve a mention here – a phone needs to be unlocked for an NFC action to execute; the NFC tag is still scanned and the UID is read. Because of this, most of my tags  are programmed to be are recognised by my phone as a Smartlock.  The Smartlock function (on my s5) allows for me to scan with a locked phone (as long as it is ‘awake’) and when the UID is read, it will automatically unlocks and executes the function.

Hopefully, this process can assist with your own self-quantification.

Anecdote: Quantified Self, IFTTT & NFC

Warning: this article contains Anecdotes and Conjecture. For a related article of containing  practical application click here.

         My sleep cycle times are measured by an NFC tag next to my bed – this tag has 2 functions, the first is to activate the Webhook which logs the time and automatically inputs this into my spreadsheet. The second is to unlock my phone with smart lock: this may seem trivial but its how to get around the NFC reader only working with an unlocked phone. 

         Originally the process was, alarm>unlock>swipe>Do button (A IFTTT function)
In total(from alarm deactivation) this took approx 4-5 seconds to wake and log.
The process is now alarm>hold phone to tag
In total (From alarm deactivation) this takes approx 2-3 seconds to wake and log.
Woot.

        Alarm clock apps that need a NFC trigger are also available – but I found mine enraged me and it just wasn’t a good start to the day.

        Tracking Calorie Consumption outlines inconsistencies in my input. Whilst accounting for this as a variable its I keenly tracked productivity patterns re: KJ amongst other things.
Calories (as far as metrics go) are easy to track, I have a general distaste for food and subsequently my RDI is fulfilled by a DIY soylent diet (dopamine permitting, I will elaborate on my Soylent experiment in a later post). It’s not for everyone. Frankly, it’s not for most.
        My meals themselves are divided into approximately 2150Kj each and whilst I try to keep regular intervals, this is not always the case.

        As the soylents measurements can be neatly divided, the point that time, is the only metric to be fulfilled. In addition, my water can be similarly accounted – for except these are measured in .9L bottles.  
        As a result, I place NFC tags on water bottle/soylent tubs and scan from there. Admittedly, I have had to replace the tags a few times, luckily I’m in a position to find a decent water resistant wet-inlay.
The webhook that the NFC tag calls, automatically inputs the data to a spreadsheet.


       Caffeine and Nicotine are (some) of my vices, seems fitting to track these habits. I can get a estimate as each of my cigarettes 12mg. I am basing this on colour indications from years ago. Since we now have plain packaging cigarettes in Australia I can only ‘estimate’ – we are not told the strength of the cigarettes.

       We can’t even ask certain questions to the cashier regarding the pricing (because ‘prices are advertising’). No shit.
Curious how Australia can simultaneously nurture a massive concentration of the world’s most deadly animals…and facilitate parabolic nanny-state tactics that prevent us from knowing the tar/nicotine concentrations.
       Each cigarette is automatically logged into a spreadsheet by scanning the ferrite-layered tag on my cigarette case.
       Caffeine measurement is similar but the metric for the amount of caffeine in each coffee is impossible to average without a spectrometer, subsequently I can only log the ‘amount’ of coffee I have had.
        Without predetermined units that are individually divided on things like food and coffee, I imagine this would require some workarounds (multiple tags would do it). This is done with tags on the coffee jars. It can be on the cups themselves, but that is a lot of tags and excessive exposure to such heat may degrade them

        Logging bathroom breaks can reveal…interesting patterns. Tracking each visit, I adopted a NFC technique I’ve used previously for alternate reasons. A while ago, I started experimenting with embedding NFC chips into my suits and vest – these had simple functions such as unlocking as it came out of pocket or starting a google search. I had historically sewed industrial tags into my vest and found that one of these sufficed considering heat and moisture during washing. A quick scan on the way in and the spreadsheet is updated.

        As a contractor, logging my work hours was vital. I found that a tag at my desk and door assisted with this. A simple on/off logging function that tracks time and day is automatically updated with every webhook sent by the tag.

      In retrospect, by my recount I follow this routine with the stoic resolution of a buddhist vulcan. I don’t. My aggregate spreadsheet data looks like swiss cheese.

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