I love Cyborgs. I follow Amber Case on twitter, and I'm participating in a boycott of McDonald's in protest of their nonresponsiveness re: cyborg hate crimes. But prior to now, I didn't know much about what people are doing in practice, beyond the norm -- cell phones, Augmented Reality systems, and so on. Grindhouse Wetware is a DIY company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who insert cybernetic implants. By that, they mean, they put magnets in people's fingers so they can sense electromagnetic fields. They do it in piercing and tattoo parlors to get around the legal limitations of the pursuit. I heard about them through The Verge's article and accompanying video, "A journey into cyborg America."
Through them, I also found out about Lepht Anonym, a much less careful body modifyer. Lepht has a talk up on YouTube ([part 2], ), in which Lepht talks about repeatedly getting sepsis, self-surgery with kitchen knives, using vodka as sterilizers, and et cetera.
Lepht is rabidly against the hyper-commercialization of cybernetic modification. In the talk, Lepht criticizes the super-rich access to expensive mods, and outlines how to put these things in yourself cheap, without professional help or inaccessible equipment.
Lepht may not be crazy, but that level of modification is way outside the realm I'm interested in pursuing without anesthetics or surgeons. And the Grindhouse guys' stuff is cool, but it's not really amazing -- the ability to sense magnetic fields isn't a huge advantage.
But they're building devices that use the magnet as input, so people with that modification have access to more complex improvements. And Lepht is in the process of performing leg surgery that will grant the ability to sense magnetic North, at all times.
Sometimes I hear people talk about the future of cybernetics as impossible, because you'll never be able to convince anyone to violate their body that thoroughly, no matter what the gains. I think these people show how absurd that is -- there are people out there who are willing to go to huge lengths, suffer pain of unanesthetized surgery and risk legal and medical consequences, for the ability to sense magnetic fields from a few feet away.