Transhumanism is a topic that has little to do with Big Data or with Data at all. Due to recent developments of Grindhouse Wetware, however, a high time has come to reconsider our paradigms about body augmentation and open-mindedly approach this topic. The Grindhouse Wetware is little known, this company is appraised within a narrow social group and its achievements are of local scale, yet I consider every accomplishment of this group to be both important and influential in a foreseeable future.
«Grindhouse Wetware» was founded in January 2012, by what was then a ragtag group of programmers, engineers and enthusiasts.» This is how the group refers to itself on its website not out of modesty, but out of honesty. Indeed, this is a company with only 6 employees. Driven by enthusiasm and by a revolutionary ideology, this humble team have developed and released three projects by now. The first one, «Circada», was implanted into the into the forearm of the company’s co-founder Tim Cannon. The early version of this device could only support two functions: measuring the temperature of the «Circada» owner, and sending this information to the smartphone via internet. Seemingly impractical, this device gave the needed inspiration for the team to move on and develop new projects as well as update the released ones.
(Picture 1. Tim Cannon demonstrates his implanted Circada device)
The second project, the «Northstar», in some way represent the smaller and less cumbersome version of «Circada». As the developer states, the Northstar V1 was developed more for aesthetic purposes. This describes the limited functionality of the device, as it has no more use than the original «Circada». However, the plans of the group seems more ambitious for this device, as the second version of it will support gesture recognition and Bluetooth connection.
This can potentially allow people to control electronic devices without directly interacting with them. The process seems similar to the NFS chips that already became one of the most popular types of augmentation, which allow to open a smart lock, for example, on a car or replace a keycard.
(Picture 2. The Grindhouse Wetware team shows their newly implanted Northstar devices)
between objects with sonar, or even can casually receive a message from anybody with a The final project is the «Bottlenose», a device that can detect large spectrum of radiation including sonar, UV, Infra-red and electromagnetic radiation. The information that this device detects can be later transferred into magnetic field using induction, so it can send the magnetic signals to the magnets implanted into your fingers video evidence provided by «Grindhouse Wetware» team shows how a Morse code message can be transmitted to the person. Human, therefore may feel it via his nerves and, depending on the preset of the device, can either be notified of harmful radiation, or measure the distance magnet. The using the Smartphone as the information transmitter, “Bottlenose” as the converter and magnet as a receiver in the body of human. Furthermore, another video provided by the company revealed how can “Bottlenose” be used as a sonar device for blind people.
(Picture 3. Tim Cannon shows the Bottlenose device during the test of its sonar abilities)
Big Data and «Grindhouse Wetware»:
Unlike most companies, «Grindhouse Wetware» team’s developments are concerned with connecting the body to the insensible world of electromagnetic radiation. Combining and enhancing all the developments listed above allows data to become more mobile. Using these technologies allow for data to be collected and stored at any possible time, given that all of the devices support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. For example, the important medical data collected by «Circada» device can directly be sent on your phone, and later transferred to the doctor without any additional visits or planned measurements that will consume your time.
The other devices impact data in another way. As stated earlier «Bottlenose» with the implanted magnets allow for the person to feel different sorts of electromagnetic radiation. It brings a whole new spectrum of data, which was inaccessible to humankind before. Moreover, electromagnetic radiation is widely used to transmit signals of different kind. Therefore, humans with this device would be granted the ability to communicate and transmit data in a new way.
In the end, the developments of this company can potentially impact the 3 V’s of the Big Data. The Velocity of data is increased, because the implanted devices allow the data to be transmitted in new possible ways. The Volume of data may also be increased, if, for example, the hospitals will start to track all of their patients’ health using the implants. Finally, the Veracity of data is definitely increased by electromagnets and the “Bottlenose” device, which allows for humans to feel electromagnetic radiation using their nerves.
“Grindhouse Wetware” is a small company that is driven by the idea of improving the humankind, rather than getting profit. This mindset grants some strength to the projects of this company.
The fact that the team is developing the technologies, without a pursuit for profit stimulates the team to experiment in the fields of biology and IT that have not been developed yet.
Moreover, with such ideology, they have no incentive to cheat and use cheaper and dangerous materials in implant production.
In addition, it allows for the company to set a small price for their devices, which is affordable by the greater portion of the population. This will allow the “Grindhouse Wetware” to both cover the expenses for the materials used in production and suit purchase power of the consumers of such technologies.
Finally, the lack of media attention to the company may be advantageous as with the popularity on the media comes along a strong opposition, especially with such controversial projects. Thus, some activist groups cannot hurdle the project, without acknowledging the existence of one.
Unfortunately, the small size of the company and their mindset may work against their projects too.
First, the fact that this company does not receive any profit from selling their products may become a disincentive to further develop and continue the production of these technologies.
Second, their small size and lack of profits does not allow for them to bring the attention of mass media to their projects and promote it and increase the potential investment in the Wetware’s developments.
Third, the project is rather controversial and therefore, may raise concerns among health and safety activists, who will prevent the project from being developed further.
Finally, being the pioneers in their field of experimenting, they will tackle problems that specialists have not yet dealt with, which may leave some projects either under performing or too time-consuming due to their complexity.
(Picture 4. The 3 V’s of Big Data that can potencially be affected by Grindhouse Wetware)
- For Consumers:
The previous paragraph showed that Big Data can be potentially affected by the developments of «Gringhouse Wetware». Therefore, we can assess how these changes in Big Data can become opportunities for humankind.
Among the strongest opportunities is the increase of Data mobility. Every gadget that was presented by the company aims at connecting the human body directly to the wireless network. This means that most measurements done by doctors could be measured without any visits to the doctor at all. In this case, anybody can know what is happening to their body at any given time, which saves both the patient and the doctor a lot of time. For instance, there will be no need to await the results of a blood analysis, you would rather look at the data on your smartphone and send this information to the doctor.
Furthermore, data mobility increases, because a new way of data transmission has appeared. People would potentially be able to send signals not merely with some external device, but also directly to the brain, via nerves, of the message receiver. Thus, with this new way of perceiving data, human will be able to communicate verbally and through nerves simultaneously. Another use of this opportunity may be to preserve some information from being exposed. It is hard to detect the message that activates nerves, in a system where nerves are active all the time. Since, no one will be able to notice it, this opportunity may come in handy in some critical situations. For example, if people are endangered by some criminal, they can call the police or some other forces with minimal body movements and the unsuspecting criminal can be easily caught this way. Unfortunately, this opportunity is a double-sided coin that comes with certain threats, but that will be discussed in the following section.
The second opportunity does not have a particularly vivid implication in real life. The fact, that the humans can become extremely sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation may not seem useful, however in some situations this technology may assist people in daily life. For example, we can take a look at a basic problem. Citizens of developed countries are keen on buying a product, which is considered environmentally friendly. When it comes to purchasing some electrical equipment, most people just rely on the label. With implanted magnets and «Northstar», on the other hand, people will be able to measure the amount of radiation the machine emits by feeling it. Therefore, producers will have to become more cautious about their claims and the data concerning electrical equipment will have to become more honest.
This leads us to the next opportunity, which can be named: «Increased Data Trustworthiness». As humans will get the opportunity to develop new senses, the frauds will have less incentive to speculate within this area. The term «frauds» may include: real estate agents or realtors, who claim that nearby radio-towers electrical stations impose no threat to the life of people in a chosen house; producers, who, using corruption, deceive their workers, into believing that their working environment is safe, and consumers, into believing that their product is safe. In fact, increased trustworthiness of data will become also a great opportunity in medicine. The data collected by the device implanted in your body may become more useful to the doctors, as it will measure pressure, temperature and etc. in the ordinary person’s environment. You will not have to prepare yourself deliberately for the measurements and thus distorting the data about your health state.
- For “Grindhouse Wetware”
Due to the fact that “Grindhouse Wetware” is a small group of enthusiasts, rather than a developed business, they have numerous opportunities lying ahead for improving their projects.
First of all, the company uses cheap and basic materials needed to ensure safety during the wearing and installation processes. It does not imply that they want to save money by lowering the production costs. They interpret this as creating a new technology without high costs, so that it will be available for everyone. Therefore, if they spend more money on the better materials, this might improve their already developed gadgets.
Secondly, the team of “Grindhouse Wetware” may benefit from having more specialists of different study areas. Currently, the people working on the projects are either biologists or electrical engineers, but employing other specialist will boost the development of every project and ensure its success even more. For example, a good surgeon in their team will help with both finding the perfect spot for implanting a gadget and ensuring the most safe operation possible.
Finally, the team have proven themselves to be independent of external investments and still developed a lot of new implants. However, it is safe to assume that with enough support from investors the team will be able to do the research faster and better in terms of quality. This will obviously will be purely beneficial for their projects.
- For the Government
With the use of the appliance of “Grindhouse Wetware” the government may improve certain institutions in their country.
Firstly, monitoring the citizens at any time through implants may ensure a greater national security, as the criminals will be easily tracked, given such devices. The crowds of people may be monitored not only by observing them from surveillance cameras, but also by investigating the crowd internally, making sure that none of the individuals in a mob can be potentially dangerous by checking if they have mental illnesses, access to weaponry or a criminal record.
Additionally, if the government will have access to the information stored on the devices, they can use it to improve their institutions. For example, monitoring the health of the civilians will give the trustworthy information about the societal sectors that either benefited or were harmed by a healthcare reform. Improving the health of citizens will boost the development of the economy and the GDP gained through improving the health state of workers will grant the opportunity for the government to spend more on public services.
(Picture 5. The picture represents the interconnection of information)
- For Consumers:
The listed opportunities could not have come without any threats, when it comes to Big Data. Connecting your body to the internet may not only cause some health problems, but also raise some serious morality and privacy issues.
One of the most obvious threats is the fact, that all of the devices listed, given that they can connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi, are hackable. It does not necessarily mean that a hacker can alter the operation of the gadget, but anybody can easily access your private files. Firstly, the health information can be used by insurance companies in order to change your insurance, so that it will suit your condition. While it sounds safe, in fact, it almost always leads to the increase in insurance costs, that some individuals cannot manage themselves. Secondly, the information can be used for abusing and blackmailing on the internet. Hackers may request a certain payment, so that the files they found will stay confidential to the public.
Another threat is concerned with the fact, that people would be easily tracked, if they are to use such devices. The NFC chips, the internet and bluetooth devices can be easily traced, and therefore, every users’ location will be known to the different parties worldwide. Among the harmless ones – Intelligence Agencies – would usually use such information to track terrorists and prevent catastrophes from happening. Alternatively, this information may be used by bandits to track their victims down, which results in a great threat for the publicly known people, who might be targeted by terrorist or bandit gangs.
Returning back to the development of a new communication method, it would be ignorant to say, that it may not be used with evil intent. As stated before, this method may save your life or become really convenient in your daily routine. On contrary, we can witness, how delinquents used newly developed communication system, social media, against the humankind. Terrorists nowadays use social media to recruit new people into their group. «Deep web» may be used to hide the criminal activity from the government and still contact others involved in some crime. The new communication method, that allows communicating without speaking or writing, may seem troublesome for the surveillance to track and process. That is why, the criminal activity may become even more latent and, in the end, deadlier than before.
- For “Grindhouse Wetware”
The openness of the company, even despite the fact that the company remains relatively unknown for the public, may be a great downside and even a hurdle to the development of their concepts.
Firstly, we should return to the topic of opposition mentioned in the sections above. Opposition was discussed in terms of the extent of media attention to the “Grindhouse Wetware”. The dubiousness of the group’s experiments is definitely a weakness, but once the strong media attention will be brought upon the topic of transhumanism, it may become even a threat to further operation of the company. The potential opposition may appeal to the government and society, which may lead to a ban of the developments of the company.
Secondly, the company pursues the objective of developing their projects as much as possible, even if it means that other developers may use their ideas in production of their own devices. “Grindhouse Wetware” did not form a patent for any of their devices, which implies that anyone can produce and alter them in any possible way. In the worst case scenario, other “entrepreneurs” may take the idea from the company in question and put a patent on the devices of “Grindhouse Wetware” and produce them. This will, of course, have a detrimental impact on the company and, most likely, it will no longer have the ability to develop their ideas.
- For the Government
The Government shares the same threats with consumers, except on a broader scale.
Assuming, at some point, the government officials will have the same devices implanted in them, they will be exposed to hacking too. However, the government officials are much more important targets for terrorists and hackers, who will be able to track them at all times. This raises the question of national security as the government opposition will now be able to thoroughly plan terrorist actions and uncover confidential information. Blackmailing may also be an option for other countries to influence the other governments, if they will be able to retrieve valuable confidential information using these devices.
Moreover, government might experience the unrest within the nation, as the appliances of “Grindhouse Wetware” may struggle with fierce opposition. The civil unrest may lead to economic and political problems for a country, which may lead to serious consequences for the government, unless they are dealt with. Otherwise, a mere opposition may become a riot and damage the economy and dissolve the societal and governmental stability within a country.
Timeline & Work distribution:
Grindhouse Wetware may not associate with some ambitious and promising projects, just because transhumanism is underdeveloped. Still, they are to reach popularity and mass production, their devices are to change the way we lead our life. Obviously it does not necessarily includes only positive changes. The idea that big data is to be affected by such developments seems reasonable today and in the future it may even come to fruition.
“Grindhouse Wetware’s” official site. Retrieved from: http://grindhousewetware.com
Jessica Firger. 2013. “The brave new world of biohacking”. Retrieved from: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/18/the-brave-new-worldofbiohacking.html
“Grindhouse Wetware’s” official Youtube channel. 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPPv6KIOfqw
Andrew Conte. 2013“Biohackers work toward building $6M man on do-it-yourself budget”. Retrieved from: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5078068-74/cannon-implanted-north#axzz39Tv7Jyh0
George Dvorsky. 2013. “What do you need to know about magnetic finger implants”. http://io9.gizmodo.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-getting-magnetic-finger-imp-813537993
Dan Sung. 2015. ”Meet the grinders: The humans using tech to live forever”. Retrieved from: http://www.wareable.com/wearable-tech/meet-the-grinders-implantables
Tim Cannon’s official Youtube channel. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfxAJKB7gA
Telegraph Reporters. 2014. “How terrorists are using social media”. Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11207681/How-terrorists-are-using-social-media.html