Cybernetics for the Masses 2: Nerve Stimulation and RFID Tagging

The main emphasis Lepht Anonym makes in this part of her presentation is on implants for nerve stimulation and experiments with RFID identification.

Common knowledge on nerve stimulation This is my main principle: nerve stimulation (see image). Anything can stimulate nerves, as I said. This has been known to medical science for a very long time. As long as you pass current through a nerve, you can set off the nerve. Depending on the strength of the current, this can make the nerve either move muscles, the senses that I have just set off small nerve endings, so you can get sort of tingling sensation, and that’s mostly what you’re looking at.

It’s a very, very small current; I’m not sure how small, but it’s enough not to be noticeable anywhere else. Generally, the only place you can do this is the fingertips, because a place has to be quite nerve-rich before this will work. I did try everywhere else, it doesn’t work in the back of your hands, it doesn’t work on the palms of your hands, it doesn’t work on your arms – you’re going to have to put this in the most painful place, basically. You can set off less tense nerves with much higher current, but I’m still experimenting with this, I don’t suggest you do. Leave it to me to f**k myself up with this.

Devices for nerve stimulation Natural senses work the exact same way. This is nothing new, this has been done to human body for thousands of years, because your nerves are electronic. Artificial sensors can do this too: I have a bunch of magnetic implants which do precisely that, which is more or less how the principle came across, although don’t think that I invented this, because I didn’t. Those were invented by Steve Haworth. I’ll be talking more about those later.

Anything that is attached to an electrode can be output, so anything can be made into a sensory device. I think I’ve probably said it, like, 5 times now, but I want to get it across. Anything you can fit under your skin and hook up to an electrode can work as an implant, given your propensity for pain.

Basic caveats to take into consideration Caveats (see left-hand image) – I have to warn you: you’ll need electronics knowledge. I don’t have that, so I have a lot of people online who help me out, and friends who know it. So, it’s useful to have some background of yourself – you’re all hackers, you probably have more than I do.

Bioproofing is a whole world of nasty rusty scummy fun. Please make sure that you bioproof things. There’s something you can go by called Sugru – you get it online, it’s moldable silicone rubber, really useful stuff, hopefully works, too. And as I said, please do your legal research.

More caveats Miniaturization, too – I’ve had a lot of problems with that, because a lot of things come on PCBs that won’t actually fit. PCBs themselves are not good for going under your skin, trust me. As I said, if you place it too tightly, sometimes you’ll knock into a corner or something, and everything will come out, and you’ll have to start again.

So, be careful of breakage, be careful of society, because that’s pretty much what they do – they just look at you and are like: “What the f**k did you do that for? Ew!” And they all freak out. Stay away from normal people, they’re stupid.

Haptics as an alternative to subdermal stimulation Just as a quick aside, if anyone doesn’t actually want to cut yourselves open for some reason, you can always look into haptics (see right-hand image). My friends at the Sensebridge collective have a website all about this stuff. Haptics is basically no pain, no risk, boring, and it’s to do with external skin stimulation instead of internal. So, it’s not a permanent adaptation; it’s things that you wear. They are much smarter than I am, so their devices are actually production: you can buy a kit. I’m not advertising, it’s just easier than this.

Lepht’s projects Past projects – these are the ones that I’ve actually done (see image to the left). I’ve messed around with RFID tags, I’ve messed around with temperature sensing, I’ve played a lot with these Neodymium implants. “The Southpaw” is my big project, which I’ll be explaining a little later, because that’s the only thing that is actually cool. As I said, they’re very simple experiments; it’s just that the results are quite interesting. You can apply this to a lot of things that some people don’t seem to think about.

Things that can be done with RFID Ok, fun with RFID is what I’ve been doing for years and years. This was, maybe, three years ago. RFID, radio-frequency identification protocol – you all know this, it’s just simplistic stuff at tagging things (see right-hand image). Obviously, you can tag people. If you’ve just got a simple reader, you can put an ampoule, which is a tiny glass tag for all kinds of things. You can put it inside you, because it’s bioproof, and you can track yourself.

Experimenting with RFID chips I had a keyboard running that wouldn’t let anyone log on to Windows or Linux unless it was actually me present there (see left-hand image), but as you all know, I know you’re thinking it’s so easy to break – yeah, it is. Boring… You don’t really need to implant yourself with this stuff at all. I just did it for kicks, it’s just an interesting little toy to play with, if the surgical procedure is just a scalpel, really.

Anything can be put under your skin. All you need to do is get deep enough to open up a little hole and you can put things in; it’s really simple. If anyone wants to know precisely how I did this, all of these hacks with RFID are all in Amal Graafstra’s book. It’s called “RFID Toys”, but that has step-by-steps. It’s all online, talking about how I did pretty much everything, with some variations, obviously, because mine are subdermal.

Lessons learned from using RFID RFID is crap for security, don’t even bother thinking about using it as your main security thing. It’s a cute little “Hey, look what I can do” thing, but it’s really not good. It’s so easy to clone, and you can use it as an extra layer on top of your existing security system, but don’t think about using it for securing anything. It’s just the easiest thing to play with – if you want to figure out some little things about just the principles of experimentation with surgery, then RFID is the thing for you, or you can ask me.

RFID: overall outcomes Overall outcomes – I didn’t really get much out of this other than some simplistic kicks; mostly I got a whole bunch of weebly bleebly about the mark of the beast; apparently I’m a disciple of Satan and all kinds of things. There’s a whole Tagged community for people doing interesting things with the chips, but it’s not really my thing. Like I said, there is a book out there that has all the information, RFID is really well documented; this is probably the only thing I do that actually has extensive documentation.

Read previous: Cybernetics for the Masses by Lepht Anonym

Read next: Cybernetics for the Masses 3: Using Thermistors and Neodymium Implants

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