Lepht Anonym, a self-taught British subdermal electronics experimenter calling herself an underground biohacker, takes the floor at 27th Chaos Communication Congress to talk about sensory extension via haptic implants, as well as other things where technology merges with the human body.
Hi, first of all forgive me if I sound funny, because I’ve never spoken in a microphone before; also I’ve never seen this many people in one place ever, so I might be a little bit nervous, and I might even pass out. To say a little about stuff that I do for fun, which is not very complex and not very hi-tech, but not many people seem to be into it, so they asked me to do a talk, so I’m doing a talk. It’s probably going to be more of a jabber, but…
First of all, my name is Lepht, I work with mostly implants, mostly in the field of sensory expansion. I work with adding more data onto the sensory data that you get from real life. It sounds incredibly complex, it’s really not. The whole thing works on one basic principle, that is, your nerves are electric things, and electric devices can set off nerves quite simply.
I’ll be explaining all of this later; I won’t be giving proper technical instructions, because I don’t actually know the legality of anything like that. Seriously, doctors won’t touch me in England, so if anyone actually wants proper instructions, contact me via email, and I’ll be happy to give you step-by-steps if you want them. It’s really not very difficult, but it hurts a lot, it’s the only thing.
Ok, a couple of things about me (see right-hand image). I’m not very big, I’m not very clever; all I do is play about with junk. I cut holes in myself, I put things in the holes, the holes are full of electricity and that’s how things work. It’s not complicated at all. That’s my email address there, if anyone wants to contact me, although I should point out, this is why it’s in red – I’m not a doctor; I’m not any kind of doctor, I don’t have anything to do with any medical device ever; please don’t sue me.
Mostly I work with haptic stuff, that is, devices that work on touch-based, except I’m not really sure if haptic is the right word for any of it, because it’s more like electronic haptics; it’s mostly correct. That’s my crappy blog there, if anyone wants to visit, it has some documentation and mostly whinging.
Mostly they call me a biohacker; this is experimentation on the lowest of low budgets. I have no budget, no money, no anything, so all I work with is stuff that you can get in the kitchen and that you can work with junk, basically. If it’s under 50 Euros – I’ve got it; otherwise – no.
My goal is functional, subdermal electronics. I don’t care about LEDs under people’s skin, I don’t care about stuff that you have to wear. I want proper implanted extensions to human body.
So far this has been mostly successful, with a lot of pain and a lot of side effects, and things like that. My personal goal is sensory extension; there’s a lot of other goals in this field, but mostly they are just goals. As far as I can tell, I’m the only person that actually works with this stuff rather than saying: “I think it would be great if it actually existed.”
Although it’s just me, this has a lot of potential for expansion. I’m sort of a start-off point: if other people joined me, it would be a lot better than it is. So, as it said, I am on the lowest of low budgets: I have no money, no surgical theatre, no doctors, no anything; so anything that I can do, you guys can do. If I give you step-by-steps, you’ll definitely be able to follow it.
Ok, why? Lots of people ask me this all the time. Basically it’s just curiosity, it’s curiosity that is going to kill me one day, because I’ve seen this at the hospital a couple of times. And there’s not many other people working on this, so if I don’t do it, chances are it won’t actually get done, well, up until now, of course – when we’re done here, some of you guys may do things.
They call it “grinding” rather than actual transhumanist technology, because most of transhumanist technology is kind of reserved to laboratories for very, very rich people, and if anyone sees me online, they’ll know that this pisses me off a lot. I hate things that only people with money can afford, so my goal is to get something interesting that extends your sensory perception that you guys can do; something that normal people on a normal person’s budget can follow along with.
Like I said, anyone can do this. This is just kitchen stuff (see left-hand image). I used to sterilize things with vodka; you can all do this. I have some basic knowledge and some kind of semi-intuitive principles to pass on to you guys, but in the main this is just really a reminder that this exists. It’s kind of common knowledge, or at least I hope it’s common knowledge.
It can be applied to anything you want, anything can be used to stimulate nerves provided that it is subdermal, and it gives off the correct current. You can’t really get wrong, you need any kind of idea. Any device you want to hook up to this can be hooked up. You want a compass – fine, you want a temperature sensor – fine, anything you like. Fundamentally, devices stimulate nerves. All you need to do that is to give off a current. Anything that gives off a current and is safe inside your body can be used as a subdermal device, given some pain. Ok, a lot of pain.
Health warnings – I have to give you these (see left-hand image). Unfortunately, I’ll take 5 minutes of your time. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not shit. I’m just Lepht. I sit in my kitchen, I cut myself up. There’s a lot of pain in this and a lot of risk. In fact, putting certain things in your fingertips hurts so much you can’t f**king see. So, if you do get involved in this, please make sure you know what you’re doing and you’re ready for pain, because there’s a lot. Anesthesia is not legal in a lot of countries, so please find out what’s legal and what’s not before you do things. Don’t sue me! You still need a bit of money.
I would tell you guys a bit about this: self-surgery is a complete last resort. I’ve tried every single doctor in my country before I found out that it’s illegal. You have to ask every expert you can get to first. There’s a guy called Amal Graafstra in the US who has RFID things done – boring, I know, but he had a doctor do it, so some doctors will allow you. Some doctors are bribable; mine are not. British GPs won’t let you do anything, so don’t even bother trying them.
And find out what’s going on; read up on infection prevention before you do anything. You’ll need proper tools; you can ask me for where to get yours and what to use, depending on what you’re doing. Anesthesia, wound care, that kind of thing – this is all stuff that you’ll need to do research on if you’re actually going to follow me, which maybe you should.