Sunday, January 2, 2011

[ExI] "Transcending the Human, DIY Style"

DIY transhumanism is super important to me, so hopefully I'd like to help put the Wired article (with the pseudonymed person @lepht_anonym) into perspective and share with the DIYbio community.

DIY transhumanists are not in it for the shock value. Maybe we'll get Todd or Quinn to send a short blurb about their neodymium implant surgeries-- nobody in DIY transhumanism (or DIYbio) is advocating unnecessary pain or body shock. We're in it for human enhancement, synthetic biologies, longevity, nootropics, software, prosthetics, tech development, yes even implants. Transhumanism itself refers to a whole philosophy of self-transformation and human enhancement.

Genspace wasn't established in a month and BSL1 rating didn't fall from the sky. Biocurious, under the direction of Joseph Jackson (who is by no coincidence also a transhumanist), is on its way for sure.

OK, so neodymium implants, ooh body shock. Not a huge deal, I agree-- didn't appreciate the pairing of "neodymium and pain"-- sane and reasonable people have done that before, again not a huge deal... it's like a less bioartsy Stelarc or something.

The other thing that caught my eye was when @lepht_anonym did a battery-powered Northpaw implant, which was not featured in the Wired article. As it would inevitably happen, the batteries died, and @lepht_anonym had to cut virself open again. A little foresight, planning, device design would have prevented this. It wasn't a shining example of an implant project, IMHO.

Other issues have caught my eye a few times that lead me to believe that @lepht_anonym is all around a liability to our communities:
... "i have been known to slice my arms open for shits'n'giggles, sure, and do a fair amount of damage in the process (none of this emo cat-scratch bullshit, i've split my arm to the tendons like the little psychopath i sort of am), but this is not something i do when properly medicated. i need a better way of communicating that."

Here's more 'body shock' or 'internet shock': Screaming-in-pain video "homebrew neodymium node insertion by Lepht Anonym"
.. which she has taken down according to YouTube.

Consensus says... liability. I suspect Biocurious will prove to be a strong player in DIY transhumanism in the near future. Along with Humanity+ there is growing support for transhumanists but at this point in time I think DIY transhumanist project participants need to take their work more seriously than @lepht_anonym has demonstrated for her own.

Anyone interested in my overview talk of DIY transhumanism can watch my talk from H+ Summit 2010 @ Harvard:
part 1:
part 2:

Humanity+ takes DIY transhumanism seriously and wants it to succeed in the best possible ways. You can become a supporting member by joining, which includes certain privileges like voting for DIY transhumanists on board elections. Another good way to get involved and put right in the middle of the action is the mailing list, which you can subscribe to over here:
(There's also archives going back to 2003; the diybio group is better for getting in on the ground floor though :-).)

This list is for all members of the Humanity+ (H+) to discuss topics relevant to transhumanism, and the activities of H+. Transhumanism is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the possibilities for overcoming biological limitations through technological progress. Transhumanists seek to expand technological opportunities to live longer and healthier lives and to enhance their intellectual, physical, and emotional capacities.

Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association) is a nonprofit membership organization which works to promote discussion and development of the possibilities for radical improvement of human capacities using genetic, cybernetic and nano technologies. H+ is now growing faster than ever, and we invite you to join us in this important work. In addition to wta-talk, you may also enroll in one of our discussion lists and join one of our local H+ chapters, which can be found in countries and languages all over the world.


Humanity+ has published a few of @lepht_anonym's articles in H+ Magazine, if anyone wants to read that.
.. or the magazine in general:

lepht anonym blog

things i do for biohacking, part 1

things i do for biohacking, part 2

I think it would be helpful if Todd Huffman or Quinn Norton would pipe up with their experiences and how their implant procedures differed.

- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

Assoc. Director of R&D, Humanity+

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Natasha Vita-More <>
Date: Sun, Jan 2, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Subject: RE: [ExtroBritannia] Transcending the Human, DIY Style
Cc: Bryan Bishop <>

All of me is unhappy that there is someone pushing bad use of DIY for
his/her/its own recognition under the name of transhumanism.  This person is
not using DIY bio effectively or smartly.  She may possibly be a "cutter"
and lacking in any medical knowledge of batteries and the fact that the
battery will have to be removed, and she can easily have issues with
rejection.  (Stelarc has a major problem with his implant, and that implant
was his own tissue!).  I have had implants as a biological artist (bioartist
doing biology) and believe me, they are not fun or easy and are very painful
and my own body rejected the implant and I had months of pain and multiple
antibiotics to deal with my immune system and allergic reaction to the

Anyone working in DIY bio needs to have a little medical background.  Anyone
working in DIY transhumanism bio needs to know what transhumanism  means and
they DIY bio, if transhumanist in scope, is based on more than just putting
things in our bodies.


Natasha Vita-More

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of estropico
Sent: Saturday, January 01, 2011 3:21 PM
To: extrobritannia
Subject: [ExtroBritannia] Transcending the Human, DIY Style

Transcending the Human, DIY Style

Well... part of me is happy that there's somebody out there pushing the
envelope. Then again I can't help wondering whether this isn't just another
form of fetishism that just happens to overlap with our desire to be more
than human. More worryingly, this type of biohacking seems to have an
obvious downside that makes me simply shudder, as a
life-extensionist: "The medical consequences can be both severe and likely
to elicit hostility from doctors. She's put herself in the hospital several
times. She nearly lost a fingertip the first time she tried to implant a
neodymium disc herself. Various experiments with bioproofing have failed,
with implants rusting under her skin, or her own self-surgeries turning
septic." All this to know where North is of feel magnetic fields (see
article)!? Thanks but no thanks....


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