Episode 28: Tim Cannon
Tim Cannon is a co-founder of Grindhouse Wetware, a group of open-source biohackers in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. What does that sentence mean, you ask? Biohacking is the process of augmenting the human body to do new things, whether with technology or biology. Max More introduced the theme of transhumanism back in Episode 2, but Tim is going to take the idea and run with it—the Grindhouse crew are actively developing and implanting technologies in themselves now.
Tim and I don’t dwell on current augmentation technologies for long. Instead, we plunge into a conversation about the nature of humanity and why he wants to leave biology behind. As always, questions of value crop up and we oscillate between nihilism and iterative, socially constructed moralities. Determinism, inevitability, and collective versus individual rights are also major themes.
You’ll hear lots of connections with other conversations. Tim directly responds to the neoprimitivism of John Zerzan, but he also offers an indirect critique of Max More by discussing the political (and classist) implications of human augmentation.
If all that makes you feel like your head is about to explode, may we suggest Grindhouse’s Thinking Cap to over-clock your brain?
Also, we learned about Grindhouse through Ben Popper’s fascinating article in The Verge (Eleanor even used Tim’s picture as her illustration template). If you’d like to learn more about what Grindhouse is up to now, we highly suggest giving it a read.
Energetic conversation Aengus.
Tim Cannon seems to love biohacking because it allows him to experience things he never could before. For many of the rest of us, these new tools may be more desired when they’re designed to solve problems, like medical problems. For example, the most desired cyborg implant right now is probably an implantable blood-glucose meter. I’m glad you linked to the Verge article as it describes Neil Harbisson, who’s using an implant to amend his impaired vision.
This makes me think of a 1916 pamphlet from the Milwaukee Electric Co. describing all the great things ‘Electricity’ could do for your home. Here’s a completely new, revolutionary technology, and people had to decide if they really needed to commit to putting these weird outlets and wires throughout their house. The utility downplays the way that electricity can completely change a family’s life, instead focusing on mundane tasks like making toast and doing the laundry.
afraid I’m having enough trouble coming to terms with what I’ve already and am experiencing.
help with medical problems, for the old tyeps still stuck in human frame, I suppose OK. blood glucose meter. be better if people could get out ofthe lifestyles which have so much to do with many medical conditions.
live 1000years to find out how to live 10000! Makes death seem pretty attractive, SO boring. If you cant work that out in 20 or 30 you wont in 10.000. They dont seem to in the sci fi I read. His notion of slow life as watching TV and getting fat is ridiculous.
His idea of rape and kill way of life of pre linguistic animmals seems absurd. Hving seen anmimals and birds behave with geat consideration and apparent kindness, Our animal roots dont wire us to eat and fuck another day. We have more complex needs and know it.It seems you’d get better rewards, pleasure, quality cooking and social life if you didin’t rape but negotiated, courted, wooed, got to know whoever. Social corruption and power structures have more influence on the behaviour he says he deplores.
Next the idea of “without language” there’s “no inner monologue” seems a primitive idea of what pre history was like, or animal life for that matter. They communicate all the time! “Pre” “history” must have involved more than this or we would never got here; language if not innate must have started pretty early; there is plenty of record of past to show “they” were as complex as us, or more, and more widely competent.
I give up! This is nonsense, but dangerous because it will appeal to people in love with idea of tech solving their problems and assisting them in running away from their fears. And the companies like HaliB who will want to invest in it, no matter what you say about open source etc.