Home > Joshua Snow, Technology > Tech Gestalts 1: Hack the Planet

Tech Gestalts 1: Hack the Planet

After a meatspace hiatus that has given the Datahaven a burst of new life and creativity (and 4 new staff members, covering everything from local tech news to miniature gaming), we’re back with the first of a weekly series: Tech Gestalts.

In Tech Gestalts, I’m going to take two to three new, State of the Art technologies (SotA, an acronym I’ll throw around often), and explore the endless possibilities they have, when combined, for revolutionizing or Nazi-fying our planet. Mostly Nazi-fying. Add that to your dictionary, it has a nice ring to it.

Today’s first SotA item is ingestible sensors.  Roughly the size of a grain of salt, these sensors are designed to be embedded in your medication. Your stomach acid activates the sensor like some kind of evil robot that gets stronger the harder you try to melt it, and these robotic nano-Hulks send out signals verifying the type of medication and the time of day. Those signals go to a wearable patch the size of a band-aid, which records the information about your digestive tract that no one really wanted to know. That information is then sent to your phone or laptop for you or your caregiver to see, and possibly to receive alarm reminders.

I just hope the patches come in more than bland band-aid patterns. Like maybe a datajack or a douchey tattoo.

Or this. Just to make people wonder

Setting aside the obvious ways that these sensors could be abused to track people’s diets, movement, and pooping schedule (“Agent Smith, it appears Subject Twelve has diarrhea.” “Send an extraction team for his toilet paper, and all his magazines”), they could also be used to give your body Wi-Fi connectivity, a much grosser version of the temporary data storage we talked about a few weeks ago, or could just honestly make it easier to remember to take your anti-depressants.

Now let’s combine them with…brain hacking. If you just got douche chills from all the horrible things that could lead to, welcome to the future chummer.

A Usenix Security conference demonstrated how, using an off-the-shelf, out-of-the-store, no-permits-needed, why-do-we-even-sell-this interface, we can hack your mind and take out the data we want. Right now it requires a sleek-looking headset that’s really a low-power EEG machine (seen above), and the proper software to run it. All total, this only costs $300.

For the cost of your Xbox 360, you too can read minds.

But does your imagination look this? Of course it does.

When researchers used their custom program, designed to extract sensitive data like your debit PIN and your address, they had as high as a 40% success rate on 28 different victims. Subjects. Raped brain people. The way the mind’s EEG readings respond to specific questions, cues, and puzzles eventually gave away tiny clues that let them piece together everything anyone would need to steal your life and buy a super-secret evil lair or something with your credit card.

Combine this with the nano-sensors above. Say that the sensors are no longer wired to detect your medication type and gastric functions, but instead as tiny EEG readers. Load ‘em up in some saline, jab a syringe in some guy’s gluteus maximus, and instant secret mind reading. All you need now is someone or something to make him play the puzzle game or answer the questions, and that’s what video games and job interviews are for.

Some naysayers are saying now “But Snow, tiny nano-bots can’t be an EEG machine, the equipment won’t fit!” Others are saying their broadcasting capabilities aren’t long enough to do this discreetly. To them I saw, “Earth to McFly, there could be HUNDREDS of them INSIDE YOU AS WE SPEAK! Quick, donate all your plasma to rid yourself of the menace!” With the power of crowds of nano-sensors, each only detecting tiny amounts of the EEG reading but feeding their information to a central unit, Republicans and shady heroin dealers could sit right across the table and hack your wife’s favorite position right of your skull before they go bang her.

And you will never know, because they could be running the compilation software on the smartphone in their pocket.


Josh Snow is a skeptical transhumanist and some-time freelance writer. He fears Republicans and shady heroin dealers, but has embraced our mind-hacked future as inevitable. You can see his Twitter @ArkangelWinter

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