People speculate that in the not-too-distant future we could have nanobots in our body, or custom DNA in our cells. With this merging of technology with our basic biology, something that seems inevitable but not considered in these stories is the ability to have apps, or high-level programs easily added on top of the basic and fixed functionality.

These would allow code for controlling the nanites to be more casually developed and applied, including by non-professional developers. They can provide supplemental features and customize or automate basic features, but can't mess with the low-level basics and core features, just as a app on your phone can place calls and interact with calls but can't break the phone functionally.

So understanding that the concept is possible, what kind of apps would be available? Whay would be the must-have add-on that's actually good for something serious, and what would be the equivilent of flappy bird games?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, adware that prints ads to your skin and malware that steals your private information seem to be the two essential app categories certain to be included. Other types of apps only exist to camouflage those two so that people will install them. (<- might or might not be intended seriously) $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2016 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi: I'm sure that printing to your skin is not the only way ads will be served. Probably there will also be ads directly inserted into your visual and aural perception. Or even into your dreams. $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Jan 17, 2016 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ This question feels very broad to me. Can you at least add some criteria by which we can judge answers? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ The question is indeed walking the line of too broad/idea generation, but the second sentence, "[What] would be the must-have add-on," seems like a good focus. I voted to keep open, but I do think it needs an edit to nail down a more definite "right answer" criteria. $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2016 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ I also recommend evaluation criteria be added to the question. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Jan 17, 2016 at 19:33

7 Answers 7

  • Mental rewiring -- I was going to type up an answer for this, but I got this uncontrollable urge to go out and get this 10,000% APR large loan from this obscure Moldovan company. I then for some unfathomable reason purchased 10,000 dildos with the loan money.

  • Ransomware - Your organs will shut down at the rate of 1 every 6 hours unless this much money is deposited every 6 hours into this untraceable Bitcoin account.

  • Spyware - Nanites dig into your brain and read your neural structure to retrieve confidential information from your very memories. This information is later transmitted wirelessly through to China

  • Malware - Generally created by disaffected teenagers, this are deadly or disfiguring attacks, targeted or random. Some create obscene scars, misplaced or genderbending sexual organs, other cause uncontrolled cell growth, block vital arteries, generate unrelievable itches or the feeling that your veins are crawling with fire-ants, etc.

  • Apps - stuff that you actually were trying to get (control fear and anxiety, get over the ex quickly, get aroused now, ThinkNow! exam-cramming apps (also used by daytraders trying to compete with the automated market-traders), joint eternal-love and do-not-cheat apps w/ spouse, generic repair apps, genetic repair apps, UV-vision app, etc.)

  • $\begingroup$ Imagine the possibilities for targeted phishing attacks. Some military general opens an email from the enemy, suddenly they start formulating terrible strategies and nobody realizes until they're all dead. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Jan 18, 2016 at 6:51

I could see one app that could be 'silly' and serious is changing the color of your irises. Basics would just allow you change it like dying your hair, but an add on 'app' might tie the colors of your eyes to your moods or emotions. When you are getting pissed off, your eyes turn red, horny, Irish Spring Green, over joyed, canary yellow with sparkles.

I'm sure there would be one to control flatulence, in both directions. More or less. Another would be the drinking app, keeping you at a nice even buzz, so you can't drink too much. Or the 'instant' sober app that purges the alcohol from your system so you can drive home.

For women out on the town the 'safe night' app, that detects rohypnol and other similar drugs and sends them straight to the kidneys' for purging.

  • Stimulate the generation of any hormone or neurotransmitter to replicate the effects of recreational drugs. Removing the withdrawal symptoms is a feature of the pro version for $9.99.
  • Influence your metabolism to regulate the digestion of carbs and fats. Eat what you want and still keep your weight.
  • Stimulate muscle growth. Get a well-toned body without having to lift a finger. The free version stimulates all muscles equally while the pro version allows you to pick specific muscle groups and set how large you want them to grow.
  • Have your nanobots hunt down pathogens to support your immune system. Make sure you get regular updates so they detect the seasonal flu.
  • Do you hate that tingly feeling when your hands are cold? Just tell your nanobots to widen the capillaries in your hands so more warm blood flows into them and keeps them warm. Warning: prolonged use can lead to hypothermia.
  • Accelerating wound healing is likely a standard-feature, but powerusers might be interested in an app which allows them to set priorities and choose which ailment to heal first. It might also give you a prognosis. "Can you come play soccer tomorrow? - Sure, the app says my ankle will be cured tomorrow at 6pm. Shall we meet at 7?"

What types of apps could be written would be a function of the hardware the nanobot has. Most of the apps on a phone center around having a speaker, microphone, graphics screen, touch sensing, accelerometer, GPS, wireless communication, a processor, and storage space.

  • To be able to run apps at all the nanobot must have a small computer processor in it.
  • It must also have the ability to store energy in some sort of internal battery, capacitor, or chemical tank.
  • It must also have the ability to be recharged. This could be done using a wireless charging coil once every so often, or simply by letting the nanobots eat sugar from your blood. There has already been research performed regarding small electric fuel cells that run on clucose.
  • To load in new apps the nanobots must have the ability to communicate with the outside, probably wirelessly.
    • Communication would allow for authentication.
    • Load the info for your airline boarding pass into the nanobots. Now you can't foret where you put it.
    • Load your drivers licence info into the nanobots so you always have it with you.
    • Pay for things at the store by waving your hand over the terminal to send your credit card number.

    The nanobot would also need some sort of effectors to do more than just sit there and compute things. Some exmaples are...
  • The ability to produce an electric pulse.
    • This could revive you if you were having a heart attack. The elderly might purchase that app.
    • This could allow you to stimulate nerves, thus allowing communication with the brain. But figuring out which nerves to access is a totally separate and horribly challenging problem.
    • An app to stream music directly into your ear nerves would probably be the most popular app in the world.
    • If you lived in an authoritarian state they may force you to load in an app that could shock anyone who gets out of line.
  • The ability to detect certain chemical.
    • Detect and neutralize alcohol so you can sober up before you have to drive home.
    • A diplomat may want an app that can detect poisons.
    • If you could detect and destroy sugar and fat then you could make a weight loss app. Just hope it doesn't go overboard and starve you.
    • If you can detect open air then you can release an organic glue to seal open wounds, thus keeping you from bleeding too much if your injured.
  • The ability to produce a certain chemical.
    • If you could produce pain killers out of nutrients available in the blood then you could avoid a headache.
    • If you could produce alcohol by breaking down glucose in your blood then you could get drunk for free.
    • If you could produce insulin you could avoid diabetes.
  • The ability to store a certain chemical.
    • If you could store oxygen, sugar, ATP, adrenaline then you could make yourself stronger for short periods of time. Or increase your cardiovascular performance in a manner similar to blood doping.
  • The ability to burn sugar, for example to keep you warm in winter.
  • The ability to send/receive specific sensory data and send it wirelessly.
    • Share what your feeling physically with another person for romantic purposes.
    • Tap into another person's senses for the purposes of espionage. For example, James Bond wants to steal the plans for a Russian jet so he hijacks the eyes of one of the engineers working on the program.
    • Enhanced entertainment experiences, that can deliver more than just sight and sound to the audience. Or even high quality 3D movies without glasses.
    • An "avatar" app?
    • Depending on the range of the wireless communication and advances in cell towers, even receive cell phone calls in your head.
    • Get Facebook and Twitter alerts overlaid on your vision
  • If you can stimulate muscles. There is the possibility of "Puppet Ware", where someone could hijack your body.
  • One way of copying someone's mind would be to get one nanobot to sit on each of a person's brain cells and record the input/output electrical pulse patterns. Having recorded the behavior of each cell and mapping the inter-cell connections one could then approximately simulate that brain somewhere else.

It should be noted that a product like a nanobot would typically be regulated by the FDA or a similar agency. Most likely laws would prohibit anyone from selling apps for the nanobots unless they had gone through a lengthy approval process. Therefore the idea of allowing non-professionals to develop nanobot apps would probably require major changes in regulatory law.

Only the most visionary medical companies would consider publicizing the hardware architecture and programming interfaces for their nanobots. Commercial cell phones became available in the 80s, but it wasn't until 2007 (when the first iphone was released) and 2008 (when the android was released) that phones with public APIs and free development environments were widely available to the public.

  • $\begingroup$ FDA: good point; that's something I'm familiar with. As for regultory changes, it does happen: a case in point is the recent ability to sell small nebulizers (and liquids to use in them) casually. It just needs enough money and pressure: sure the exposed high-level API is safe! $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Jan 17, 2016 at 22:28
  1. Man-to-machine interface, no more typing
  2. Pain configuration, by-pass itching, pain and stress momentarily to enhance focus on tasks at hand and assist on medical procedures
  3. Internal clock/todo-list, unaffected by stress or memory
  4. Mouth-guard, prevent from biting your own tongue, cheek or lip
  5. Hair control, set skin areas to either grow hair or not - no more shaving needed.
  6. Resource manager, to keep nutrients in balance, alerts at low levels

Introducing the GroundHog App by Murphy Software. Every morning, at a predefined time (preferrably while you are sleeping), our app's nanites will reset your entire body to the condition it was in when you first installed our app.

  • No more pesky aging!
  • Wounds and sunburns heal overnight!
  • Eat and drink as much as you want!

Your mind and memories are unaffected and you can turn it off whenever you want to make a permanent change. Get GroundHog, and make your joyful days of youth repeat forever!

Warning: Long term use has been linked to severe deja-vu and meglomania. Use only as directed.



  • Spider-sense: utilize your location sensor and use visual data from other users to construct 360 degree perception. Pro version offer hilighting important information and suppressing noise


  • Ears wiggler
  • Chameleon: changing your outer features at will
  • Fart to music

Flappy bird would be: Endless Orgasm Pro version


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