CBS2 has learned that prescription medications as we know them may soon be a thing in the past.
As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported, they could be replaced with tiny, implantable microchips that can treat, and potentially cure, dozens of chronic diseases with “high-tech healing.”
“The chip will cure some diseases, and the chip will prevent others,” said Dr. Kevin Tracey of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research on Long Island.
The chip is implanted in the body, where it sends little electrical currents telling the nervous system to tell the body to heal itself.
“The diseases that can be treated by this approach is a lengthy list — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s,” Tracey said.
The chip is Tracey’s brainchild. He is a neurosurgeon with the institute, and his efforts have launched a new field in healthcare–known as bioelectronics.
“The promise of bioelectronic medicine is to restore the activity of nerves whose function, for whatever reason — disease or aging — are not functioning properly,” he said.
Tracey said the technology is extremely precise, and there are no side effects. He compares it to how a pacemaker controls the nerves of the heart, except these new devices will control the nerves of the immune system.
“Potentially nerves to tumors, to cancer cells; nerves to the bowel and bladder,” Tracey said.
Clinical trials for multiple chips are currently underway, and positive results have already been reported in treating conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and even appetite control.
“I figured, what did I have to lose?” said Virginia Valles, who participated in a clinical trial.
Virginia Valles was one of the first to test a bioelectronic device for weight loss. Since starting the trial four years ago, she has lost nearly 100 pounds.
“You get this feeling of fullness. It’s like you just ate a nice, big meal,” said Dr. Ken Fujikoa, a weight-loss researcher at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.
Instead of disappearing, drug makers such as Glaxo Smith Kline are looking ahead and funding research in this next frontier.
“Every single disease that we have looked at, we have found we could make medicines bioelectronically,” said Dr. Moncef Slaoui of Glaxo Smith Kline.
Bioelectronic devices are controlled by a smartphone or tablet that is programmed and monitored by the patient’s doctor.
The Apple Watch heralds a brave new world of digital living
“The Watch is here” touts Apple’s slogan for its wearable computer, implying that the one and only time-piece that really matters has arrived. So much for the Rolex Cosmograph and Seiko Astron when you can buy a stylish digital Apple Watch Sport, or even Apple Watch Edition crafted with 18-karat gold.
If we believe the hype, one in four Australians plan to buy a wearable device by the end of the year.
Of its many features and functions, the Apple Watch is a music player, fitness tracker, communications device, payment token and digital key. And it also tells the time. We were surprised that no one claimed that it will also help look after our kids. But not for long. There’s an app for that. So is there anything this device cannot do?
Who would have thought that the power of an internet-enabled laptop computer, mobile phone, iPod, fitness tracker, bank card and set of keys could be neatly packaged and strapped around your wrist?
And unlike other futuristic visions of hand-held communicators, the Apple Watch won’t leave you stranded in perilous situations because it’s dropped, stolen or falls out of range because it’s literally always connected to you.
This raises a key question: how will we change our behaviour based on the fact that we are walking around with a fully-fledged computer – one that sits in contact with our bodies and communicates wirelessly with machines around us without us being explicitly aware of it?
According to the marketing spiel, we’ll have a lot more convenience at our fingertips. But, in actuality, we may find ourselves reaching for the mute button, longing to be disconnected, and fed up with all the notifications interrupting us. That’s when the novelty effect wears off.
We have probably witnessed people who cannot resist the urge of pulling out their mobile phone to interact with it at the most inopportune times or who pass their idle time simply looking down at a screen.
Most do not realise they are even interacting with their personal computer devices for hours each day. The repetitive behaviour has almost become a type of tic disorder which is neurobehavioural.
We get a message, it makes us feel important. We reply and get a buzz the very next time it happens again. It’s kind of like digital ping pong. And the game can get tangible fast. The main reason this repetitive behaviour remains hidden is that the majority of smartphone users suffer from this, so it looks normal.
You can see people in public spaces immersed in virtual places. These Wi-Fi-enabled mobile contraptions can also trigger a host of internet-related addictions, whether used for gaming, answering mail, web surfing, online transactions, social media, we-chatting, or taking a tonne of photographs.
According to experts, internet addiction disorder (IAD) can ruin lives by causing neurological complications, psychological disturbances and social problems. This is not to mention the potential for accidents when people are not looking where they are going or not paying attention to what they should be doing. In short, our need to be always online and connected has become a kind of cybernarcotic drug.
Little device, big data
Very few of us are immune to this yearning for “feedback loops”, so telecommunications operators and service providers pounce on this response. Information is money. And while we are busy interacting with our device, the companies are busy pocketing big money using our big data.
We are fast becoming a piece of digital information ourselves, sold to the highest bidder. And while we are busy rating ourselves and one another, the technology companies are not only using our ratings to learn more about our preferences and sentiments, but rating us as humans. In sociological terms it’s called social sorting, and in policing terms it’s called proactive profiling.
In days gone by, mobile communications could tell data collectors about our identity, location, even our condition. This is not new. But the real-time access and precision of this level of granularity of data gathered is something we should be all aware of as potentially impinging on our fundamental human rights.
Because they interface directly with the human body, watches have the capacity to tell a third party much more about you than just where you’ve been and where you are likely to be going. They can:
Determine time, distance, speed and altitude information derived from onboard sensors
Identify which apps you are using and how and why you are using them, minute by minute
Oversee the kinds of questions you are asking via search engines and text-based messages you are sending via social media.
All in all, private corporations can glean what you are thinking, the problems you are facing, and they know your personal context. What is disturbing is that they can divulge some of your innermost personal thoughts, intentions and actions, and have evidence for the reasons we do things.
Many people immersed in the virtual world are too busy to be thinking about the very act of inputting information onto the internet. People value a life of convenience over privacy too much to be genuinely concerned what information is being logged by a company and shared with hundreds of other potential partners and affiliates.
And consumers are often oblivious to the fact that, even if they are doing nothing at all, the smart device they are carrying or wearing is creating a type of digital DNA about their uniqueness.
Today, we are asking to be monitored and are partying in the panopticon. We have fallen in love with the idea of being told about ourselves and don’t discern that we have become like prison inmates who are being tracked with electronic bracelets.
By the time we wake up to this technological trajectory, it may be all too late. Our health insurance provider might be Samsung, our telecoms provider may be Google, and our unique lifetime identifier could come from Apple. At present, these are the archetypal tech providers. But tomorrow, who knows?
And by that time, we will likely be heralding in the age of uberveillance where we posit that cellphones and wristwatches are not enough, that the human-computer interface should go deeper, penetrating the skin and into the body.
“You can’t live without it”, may soon no longer be just figurative, but a reality.
Katina Michael is Associate Professor, School of Information Systems and Technology at University of Wollongong.
MG Michael is Honorary Associate Professor, School of Information Systems and Technology at University of Wollongong.
"By day there were tech entrepreneurs, students, web designers and IT consultants - but that night they were going to be transformed into cyborgs.
It may sound like the beginning of a science-fiction novel, but in fact it is a recollection of real events, by bio-hacker Hannes Sjoblad.
He organised the so-called implant party, which took place in late November and was one of several he has arranged. At it, eight volunteers were implanted with a small RFID (radio frequency identification) chip under the skin in their hand. Mr Sjoblad also has one.
He is starting small, aiming to get 100 volunteers signed up in the coming few months, with 50 people already implanted. But his vision is much bigger.
"Then will be a 1,000, then 10,000. I am convinced that this technology is here to stay and we will think it nothing strange to have an implant in their hand."
Thanks for the link SB.
This "conversation" and "debate" began a long time ago... it is not new. Just take a look at http://ro.uow.edu.au/kmichael and http://www.katherinealbrecht.com/about-katherine/books-and-book-chapters/first-chapter-of-spychips/
"Mr Sjoblad also hopes that his implant party will spark a conversation about our possible cyborg future.
"The idea is to become a community that is why they get implants done together," he says.
"People bond over the experience and start asking questions about what it means to be a man and machine.
"Curiosity is one of the biggest drivers for us humans. I come from a maker hacker culture and I just want to see what I can do with this."
For those who decide life as a cyborg isn't for them, the procedure Mr Sjoblad uses is reversible and takes just five minutes.
But he has no intention of removing his.
"We've been putting chips in animals for 20 years," he points out.
Now it is the turn of the humans.
"This is a fun thing, a conversation starter. It opens up interesting discussions about what it means to be human. This is not just for opening doors."
Thanks OG and KMA.
My observation? How long before this technology becomes mainstream? And then even the body-modders might be asking themselves that the 'group' they identify with is no longer unique... implantables, like tattoos, like piercing are about being 'different' but also the 'same'... But when everybody has one, even the boring old banks, will the body-modders really want one? "Yes" if it means customisation, and "no" if they think it means conformity to the masses.
"Ils portent le nom de leur amour sous leur peau
Un studio de tatouage à Zürich propose l'implant de micropuces électroniques lisibles via un smartphone. Une première en Suisse qui fait débat.
Mis à jour le 13.09.2014
"Remember, Google introduced Calico to the world with the bold ambition of "curing death." CEO Larry Page, Google Ventures head honcho Bill Maris, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who Google hired as its director of engineering, have all expressed a deep interest in radical life extension and the Singularity. Up until today we haven't had a lot of detail about how Calico would pursue that goal. Page had told Time, "One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you solve cancer, you’d add about three years to people’s average life expectancy. We think of solving cancer as this huge thing that’ll totally change the world. But when you really take a step back and look at it, yeah, there are many, many tragic cases of cancer, and it’s very, very sad, but in the aggregate, it’s not as big an advance as you might think.""
"“Glass is very aware of the user,” he said. “There’s consequences to that, and things to consider and be careful about. But there’s also opportunity for a computer that’s very close to the person.”"
"Google has big hopes for its Glass head-mounted computer, chief among them a desire to make the unit smaller and more comfortable to wear.
Those were just a couple of the goals for a polished version of the device laid out Tuesday by Babak Parviz, the creator of Glass, who is also the director of Google’s “X” special projects division.
“Essentially we’d like to make the technology disappear,” he said during a conference on wearable technology in San Francisco.
“It should be non-intrusive” and as comfortable to wear as regular glasses or a wristwatch, he said.
Shrinking the unit would require advances in optics and photonics, he said. More computing power is also needed to make the device faster at answering people’s questions on the fly, Parviz said.