THE CYBORG EVOLUTION
WHEN MAN AND MACHINE COLLIDE, CYBORGS ARE BORN. BUT IT’S NOT JUST FOR SCI-FI, THEY’RE AMONG US NOW AND OUR MAN LUKE EDWARDS HAS JOINED THEIR ROBO-RANKS BY GETTING AN NFC CHIP IMPLANTED IN HIS HAND.
We take regular joe Luke Edwards and attempt to turn him into a robot without any of the potential downsides…
There are plenty of perfectly good wearables out there now, so why feel the need to have one implanted under the skin? It means being stabbed, potentially setting off shop alarms, risking infection, never being able to remove it and, of course, potentially getting hacked. PUNY FLESH
It also means the ability to interact with machines by simply waving a hand. It’s not quite Jedi level controls but it’s as close as we can get right now. But this isn’t about practical applications alone, it’s about being one of the pioneers of the singularity.
The singularity is when machines become smart enough to improve themselves faster than puny fleshy humans can, at which time we’ll be left behind, unless we can upgrade. While implants to connect your every thought to the internet, contact lens displays and thought communication may be a while off, we are starting to work towards that.
This implant is one of a few options out there right now. The NFC chip under the skin works much like the chip in your phone or bank card. That takes some of the fear out of the implant as it is inert, only reacting to radio waves which ping off it, giving it life for that time so it can be recognised. That’s not to say this is a dumb tag like the chip in your cat or dog, this can be loaded with data to be sent, too.
Right now NFC is more mainstream meaning the chip can actually be used in the real world. Using it in place of a wallet at the myriad contactless payment points is reason enough to get the upgrade, if just to see the face of the bartender in the pub. But with car and door locks also using NFC, this represents the opportunity to finally do away with keys completely.
No more getting locked out of the house, no more locking the key in the car and no more clumsily jutting a bit of metal into a hole every time you want to enter.
Getting the chip actually installed is the moment when all these lofty thoughts of what could be done simmer down to a single focus – being stabbed.
Thankfully I was in the good hands of a professional. After speaking with Professor Kevin Warwick, who helped pioneer implants with his magnet implant back in the late eighties, I was put in contact with Mac McCarthy. That name alone had me sold. He is a seasoned professional in body augmentation and, I was assured, could install the NFC chip safely.
I was told Mac would be happy to help and all I had to do was make my way to him in Wolverhampton, England – once labelled the fifth-worst city in the world by Lonely Planet. And the address? Dr Evil’s Body Modification Emporium. I was beginning to reconsider the trip.
Luckily, Mac was welcoming, super professional and at ease with the procedure. He showed me the worryinglylarge syringe that had the NFC chip built-in. This is something anyone can buy from the internet. While it’s easy to get hold of, you’d definitely want a professional to do the task as it’s a lot thicker than any needle you’ve seen before – think more like a knitting needle which needs to go an inch deep into you. Hmm.
The best place to install the chip was the back of the hand between thumb and hand base where the flesh is thick, blood vessels and bones are minimal and it should hurt least. The injection hole was marked in pen with a dotted line to where the needle would penetrate to deposit the chip.
He pinched the skin, I winced, he stabbed, I bled. He ejected the chip and withdrew, I bled some more. He patched me up and that was my 10-second procedure done. It didn’t hurt as badly as I’d expected and after some post-
If you have a futuristic implant in your hand, do try and look like a robot
Jaguar Land Rover is one of the pioneers of NFC locks
Luke no longer needs a business card, he just beams his details to smartphones