The Wild, Wild West of Biohacking

By Marc Cohen, MD

Biohacking is the attempt to control biology and defy disease, decay and death so we can become superhuman. The idea is not new; our ancestors were masterful biohackers and developed low-tech hacks such as fasting, isolation, chanting, yoga, martial arts, body temperature manipulations and traditional medicines to increase their health and wellbeing. However, there is a new trend in biohacking featuring technology that is staggering. Super-technologies such as AI, brain-computer interfaces, sensorless-sensing, CRISPR, xenobotics, nanobotics, probiotics, morphoceuticals, 3D-tissue-printing, cloud-computing and blockchain technologies allow us to manipulate molecules, modify genes, manage microbes, create living robots, regenerate body parts, seamlessly monitor and track health metrics, and manipulate our sensory inputs.

AI can perceive and do things that humans simply can’t—and do them much cheaper and more consistently. AI will soon make medical care available to everyone on earth, while AI-powered biofeedback will control our temperature, pressure, color, sound, smell and electromagnetic inputs in real time to create augmented reality games that take us on personalized healing journeys. Furthermore, nanobots, xenobots and regenerative technologies will let us regrow tissues, limbs, or organs, or use living tissue for body adornment or new biological functions.

But this wild, wild west raises moral, legal and ethical issues. Just as lone computer hackers bypass security systems, biohackers conduct experiments on themselves and analyze, share and compare their data without ethical oversight, regulation or recourse to established authorities. Thus, the question: What do we want from life and can we hack our biology and consciousness to enhance our moral and ethical nature?

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