Humans have been augmenting themselves physically, mentally, and culturally as long as we’ve been around. These augmentations of ourselves are seen as extensions, and the concept of extending the self is the center of much academic research. This has only increased with the advent of smaller computers and the internet, and some have begun “hacking their bodies” by incorporating technology into themselves.
What is Body Hacking?
An argument can be made that any new technology or possession extends the self. Collections are indicative of who we want to be; phones connect us to the internet and the world at large. I tend to agree with this Belkian line of thinking. However, prior to the digital era, the self could only be extended by physical markings, owned possessions, and aspects of one’s culture. Now, humans can become cyborgs in order to improve their quality of life, exercise autonomy over their bodies, or just indulge their curiosity.
Body hacking is the practice of incorporating technological devices into one’s body which serve some sort of function. They could be as simple as a magnet, or as complex as a full-fledged computer. It could be as functionally casual as a party trick, or it could save your life (think pacemakers, though I wouldn’t consider that to be voluntary body hacking). This interesting concept opens a whole new world of possibilities, and the innovators willing to put these devices on and in themselves are the pioneers who will help bring about new links between ourselves and the digital world around us.
Could cryptocurrency users benefit from all this?
I imagine so. If a small near-field communication (NFC) chip were to be placed in a body, and data stored on it, this could store one’s public and private wallet information. Due to current limitations, it likely couldn’t serve as a client or node on its own.
While it may not be so inconvenient to carry a cellphone around with you, imagine if you never had to worry about leaving your mobile – or hell, even cold storage – wallet information with you. Could this be one way to encourage cryptocurrency adoption and use? Potentially. At the same time, in a world where many are squeamish about needles, implanting a chip may seem even more stressful than losing a phone.
Moreover, there is always the worry that implanted chips may make us vulnerable to tracking and passive data collection, but I’m not so worried about that. In fact, I see body hacking as an incredibly interesting opportunity for some within the crypto community.
What may really be a pipe dream – but fun to think about – is hacking our bodies to link up to the Bitcoin – or any other – cryptocurrency network and be walking, breathing propagators of the blockchain. Wouldn’t that be something?