The rapid pace of technological change is not a new phenomenon, but keeping up with it remains a continual challenge for the world’s leaders.

In a world absorbed by health and wellness trends, the rise of biohacking should come as no surprise.

Broad in its definition, the term is often used to describe managing one’s biology through a combination of medical, nutritional and electronic techniques.

To understand the implications around biohacking, Leader spoke with Future Crime Agency Director Skeeve Stevens.

As a futurist, Mr Stevens helps businesses and government departments understand the evolution of new technology and its future impact. He is especially interested in the internet of things, virtual reality, wearables and the network infrastructure that supports them.

Mr Stevens said biohacking sounded more complex and complicated than it actually was.

“Put simply, biohacking is a term used to describe hacking your own biology,” he said.

Mr Stevens said most people would have encountered a form of biohacking somewhere in their daily lives.

“Taking Panadol, wearing prescription glasses or using contact lenses are all forms of biohacking,” he said. “More extreme examples might include getting a hip replacement or using a birth control implant.

“Most people are biohackers, there are just a few people who take it to another level and become advanced biohackers.”

According to Mr Stevens, many of today’s advanced biohackers use nootropics – a word stemming from Greek language which roughly translates to bending or shaping the mind – to improve mental performance.

Mr Stevens said many of these people included government and business leaders.

“Nootropics are a class of drugs commonly referred to as smart drugs,” he said.

“Nootropics can make you super focused on what you are doing and allow you to absorb more information than you can usually.”

While people embracing biohacking come from assorted backgrounds, Mr Stevens said Australians had not welcomed it like Americans or people across Europe.

“When you look at what is being achieved in other countries, Australia is very behind in terms of biohacking,” he said. “If people don’t understand something, they simply think the worst. They either attack it, ignore it or become completely confused by it.”

Mr Stevens said another relatively advanced example of biohacking – transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) – had recently broken into the mainstream.

“From Olympic athletes to e-sports gamers, neurologists, musicians and psychiatrists – this technology is widely utilised in today’s
world,” he said.

Earlier this year, a consumer-based tDCS device was launched under the Halo Neuroscience brand. Dubbed Halo Sport, the
technology includes a wireless headset that aims to stimulate the brain to accelerate gains in strength, endurance and skill.

“Halo Sport was introduced in January 2019,” Mr Stevens said. “It stimulates the brain’s motor cortex through a pair of wireless
headphones with electrical currents.

“Whether the activity is learning music, dance or sports, the human brain learns movement via the motor cortex.

“Essentially, it is a brain stimulator that helps you develop muscle memory much faster.”

Mr Stevens said there was growing interest in this technology, especially from people striving to be at the top of their game, though
he cautioned the technology could ingrain bad technique.

“If you are a golfer, you need to get the correct golf technique down before using the headphones,” he said. “If you don’t you will train yourself into a hole that is very difficult to get out of.”

Backed by more than 15 years of research and 4000 peer-reviewed papers, Mr Stevens said Halo Sport was just one example of the many technologies set to change and disrupt the way people operated in the future.

Mr Stevens said he foresaw the next 10 years would be referred to as the decade of the brain.

“From 2020 onwards, biohacking methods will continue to develop at a rapid pace,” he said.

“Intelligence departments don’t know what to expect, which is why we are trying to prepare them for it.”

Bio

Skeeve Stevens

  • Role Director at the Future Crime Agency.
  • Studied University of Melbourne; RMIT University.
  • Worked Future Sumo; Future Now Academy; Superhumanology; Chip My Life.

Penelope Thomas is a Journalist at Seven West and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.