Zoe Quinn to Haters: Talk to My Cyborg Hand

The game developer diagrams her implants at TechFestNW

Zoe Quinn may be best known for being targeted by the epochal cyber-bullying GamerGate in late 2014. But the game developer and technology advocate didn't once mention GamerGate during her talk this afternoon at TechFestNW.

Instead, she discussed her hand implants.

"I'm not just a woman in tech, I'm tech in a woman," said Quinn.

She has two implants. The first is a magnet in her left ring finger, which she said is useful for hitting on "attractive" people at parties, as well as sensing the magnetic fields thrown off by electronics or a passing subway train.

"You can feel the difference between a live wire and a dead one by the electromagnetic field around it," she said.

Dying hard drives in laptops, too, have a particular sensation, Quinn said.

"It's also great for picking up tiny screws when you're working on those laptops," she said "Basically what this does is turn you into a shitty version of Magneto."

Quinn's other implant is a near field communication chip, much like the kind dogs and cats are given in case their owners lose them.

Quinn has used this chip to store everything from passwords to contact information, which she can transmit to any compatible device she touches—a handy tool for business conferences, she said.

She was quick to point out the future of implants like these has few limitations.

"There's people who are doing more than just having fun and adding functionality to the body," she said, mentioning a project called Open Artificial Pancreas System, which is working to disseminate an improved insulin pump for people living with Type 1 diabetes.

Quinn said that she's also motivated in part by a desire to keep this sort of technology from being monopolized for dreary, lethal uses.

"I think it's super important that while we have so many of the shitty parts of the cyberpunk future—like, our government has made robots that can kill people on the other side of the planet—we deserve to have the silly stuff, like cool deus-ex-like mutations," she said.

Each of Quinn's current implants cost less than 100 dollars.

"I have a lot of optimism that if things stay low-cost and open-source and freely available to the public," she said, "we can get a lot of really interesting stuff done instead of having cybernetics and this taste of the future be reserved solely for people with money."

Quinn's next implant, called NorthStar, will be a bioluminescent star embedded in the back of her hand that will point in the direction of magnetic north.

"I have no idea what this is going to do to me," she said. "I feel like there's a lot of ways to die, and becoming too cybernetic to live is an all-right one."

Willamette Week's journalism is funded, in part, by our readers. Your help supports local, independent journalism that informs, educates, and engages our community. Become a WW supporter.