Cyborg America: a journey into the world of basement body hackers
The Verge’s Ben Popper explores the world of biohacking (and becomes a cyborg), where DIY cyborgs are pushing the bleeding edge of human enhancement. From basement labs to piercing shops, we investigate the “grinder” culture that hopes to merge man and machine.
Tim, the proprietor of Hot Rod Piercing in downtown Pittsburgh, put down the scalpel and picked up an instrument called an elevator, which he used to separate the flesh inside in Sarver’s finger, creating a small empty pocket of space. Then, with practiced hands, he slid a tiny rare earth metal inside the open wound, the width of a pencil eraser and thinner than a dime. When he tried to remove his tool, however, the metal disc stuck to the tweezers. “Let’s try this again,” Tim said. “Almost done.”
The implant stayed put the second time. Tim quickly stitched the cut shut, and cleaned off the blood. “Want to try it out?” he asked Sarver, who nodded with excitement. Tim dangled the needle from a string of suture next to Sarver’s finger, closer and closer, until suddenly, it jumped through the air and stuck to his flesh, attracted by the magnetic pull of the mineral implant.
“I’m a cyborg!” Sarver cried, getting up to join his friends in the waiting room outside. Tim started prepping a new tray of clean surgical tools. Now it was my turn.