Mapping the Cyborg

I have been thinking about the cyborg and our instrumentation of the self. The Elegant Cyborg project is encompassing of a number of strands of investigation but initially I have been thinking about activity trackers, the data that they generate and the Stacks.

To get started on this I have started scribbling a few maps. Initially, in my notebook I drew this:

Its me trying to frame what I want to examine by cyborg. There is already a lot of research and writing on this and I am fully aware of the fact that we can create a definition of cyborg that encompasses all of modern human beings, in that they enhance their physical interaction with the word through technology. This can be corrective technologies and interventions such as medical intervention through drugs, or artificial limbs or even glasses or it could be self prescribed tools to enhance ones self, a smart phone to act as a reminder / memory and location finder or something like an activity tracker to specifically tally some activity data about oneself with a specific aim in mind. This aim is probably around fitness.

With Google announcing their Fitness data system at I/O the other day and Apple already having announced their HealthKit as a part of the forthcoming iOS 8 it is appropriate to look at this last element of cyborgification in more detail.

This map has a lot from the previous map, at the moment it does miss off genetic technology, 23andMe for example. It does show the Stacks over on the right. What it does not show is the place existing Pharma and medical technology companies play in this.

What are the questions to be investigated here? I think some of the following are worth looking into:

  • How do the different activity / health apps/devices compare?
  • Is the actual data useful to an individual (and/or how to make it useful)?
  • How is the data useful to the company offering the system?
  • Are there problems with the sharing of this data?
  • Are there ways of mitigating any such potential problems with this sharing?

On the second map sits Google Glass. Around the corner from my office at Central Saint Martins is the new Glass Basecamp. I don’t think glass counts as an activity/health device yet, but it is there in the cyborg enhancements. Its the bridge to the projects on privacy. Its the poster device for a reaction against the cyborg as an extension of a corporate entity (Wear Glass be a Stack Node?) but is that justified? Are all our interactions with an entity such as Google a cyborgification of our selves and do we need new tools and language to understand what that means to us and to it and how do we (if deemed necessary) change that so that the technology is still useful to us as humans not us humans being useful to the Stack.

[[I am currently trying to find funding for this project so if anyone has any suggestions for routes for such funding please let me know.]]