The future of wearable technology

I have been thinking about human’s ongoing affair with technology. With the Miller (2011) chapter in my mind, it is quite a surprise to discover transhumanist ideals everywhere.

While it may not be a big surprise to find transhumanist references in a video about wearable technology, it is a bit of a jolt to find how they match the points that Miller made so clearly. Here are a couple of key quotations from the video:

"Ultimately we are going to be combinations of man and machine...

"If we don't accept those (technological changes), we are going to be left behind."

The wearable heart monitors discussed in the video are examples of what Miller describes as the virtualisation of the body. Heart rate data is captured by sensors on the watch and then uploaded to computer networks where they are then recorded and shared among a community — pretty much like Facebook for athletes.

However, the view that the body and its processes can be reduced to information codes and patterns is only one side of the story. The other side is that its purpose is to transform the body itself. Athletes can refer to their heart rate data to improve their performance.

A couple of questions I would like to further explore but are not fully discussed in the Miller chapter:

  • How do commercial interests influence the virtualization of the body? After all, the development of these devices, their marketing and the maintenance of the data they capture require huge financial investments that business would need to recover.
  • In the same way that numbers on a weighing scale can influence body perception, how does biometric data (their own and those from their network) influence the athletes’ sense of self?

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