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Nca pres saturday

Presentation at National Communication Association. Copyright by Fernanda Duarte fduarte@ncsu.edu.

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Nca pres saturday

  1. 1. Biohacking at the thresholds of the sensorial and the political FERNANDA DUARTE - NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY Thursday, February 6, 2014 Today I'm discussing the affects between the sensorial and the political in biotechnologies used to monitor the physiological performance of individuals. It is observed by scholarship in media, culture and critical studies that the mesh of location aware technologies with pervasive information networks has enhanced the mobility of some people, places and things while stressing the immobile condition and unequal accessibility of others. Issues about forms of surveillance, their pervasiveness, and the institutions to whom they are available arise as the possibilities to identify individual’s current location, monitor traveling routes and create databases about individuals and places. Once the depth of pervasiveness reaches the biological body, it is required that specific discussions about surveillance, safety and privacy are developed to deal with ethical issues of biological disclosure. Bio-nanotechnologies are being developed in ways that we, as individuals not only populate a location in space, but that our physiological data, as it is fed out to the network, becomes another variable to shape how individuals perform in it. We know the dangers of sharing our credit card information on the internet and we all worry about the odds of having this and other personal information disclosed. Which concerns arise when the data that is shared regards health information and discloses how our physiology performs? The inclusion of the body as a site of networked computation brings the scale of pervasive computing to a micro scale of molecular biology, and extends whatever power networks and politics of mobility to reach into the body.
  2. 2. ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing, physical computing, tangible media, everyware, wetware. (Weiser, 1991, dourish&bell, 2011, greenfield, 2006) Thursday, February 6, 2014 Recent developments in pervasive computing, such as embedded microchips and nanobiotechnologies, endows practices of mapping that do not only collect information about the physical space, but also about the physical body that inhabits that space. Biotechnology applications, currently under development, are able to monitor physiological functions, such as heart rate and stress levels, promote more seamless augmented reality interfaces through contact lenses and even assist visually impaired to exercise their mobility through the implant of sonar sensors. Other biometric applications are also devoted to find more precise ways to identify individuals. Such practices tell us about forms of knowledge and mapping practices that challenge the notions of space, as a mere geographic coordinate, and the body, as a node in a network. The body becomes a space to e mapped and governed. In order to discuss possible implications, I present a few examples of prototypes currently under development to look at the power dynamics that animate the relationships of the biotechnological arrangement and the sensorial experience also at a molecular level. These groups are of medical applications that allow the individual to care for herself; and of institutional, governmental applications that allow the care of a population.
  3. 3. Alexandra Institute in collaboration with the Aarhus School of Engineering School in Denmark Thursday, February 6, 2014 MIKAT, for example is a bio-sensor based application designed for the Iphone that enables patients to monitor levels of anxiety before they evolve into panic attacks. Based on body sensors, the app reports regularly on the patient’s body stress levels and heart rate and feeds the user with exercises and therapeutic techniques based on cognitive behavioral therapy. On the verge of a panic attack the data is shared with the physician who is able to take the necessary measures to care for the patient.
  4. 4. implantable silicon-silk electronics and tattoos with blood sugar readings University of Pennsylvania Thursday, February 6, 2014 A more pervasive interface for emotional regulation is under development at the University of Pensylvania where silk-silicon electronics function as arrays of conformable electrodes that interface with the nervous system and administer "corrections" to attend situations of distress. The same silk silicon technology can be also added with LEDs that might act as photonic tattoos that show blood-sugar readings. The motivations to intermesh the biological body with computing capacities are many. First, it leverages the body as a more efficient platform for mobile services. In fact, the development of wearable computers is strongly invested by the need of allowing us to multitask face to face and remotely, guided by the western social push for a more productive and dynamic work force. Also, more pervasive computing features enable the body of the individual to be precisely pinpointed in space and time. The use of biometrics in border control checkpoints demonstrate how discourses of safety and risk are articulated through more precise forms to trace how targeted populations move and occupy space. Even though the technology has been developing to give us more control over what surrounds us, what happens inside our bodies is still opaque to us. The miniaturization of pervasive technologies is allowing that we not only hack space but that we also hack the biological body.
  5. 5. InVivo NanoPlatform DARPA, USA Thursday, February 6, 2014 In Vivo NanoPlatform is a nanotechnology platform for medical health under development by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, USA). DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies which have had a major effect on the world, including the hypertext system, the internet, and graphical user interface. The platform is under development since March 2012 and aims to be an efficient diagnosis and treatment alternative to soldiers in the battlefield. It consists of implantable therapeutic nanotechnologies made of biocompatible, nontoxic materials. Besides re-establishing injured or sick soldiers, the In Vivo Nanoplatform aims to be a constant monitoring system that is aware of the physiology of the body and is also environment sensitive to avoid the spread of infectious diseases among soldiers.
  6. 6. Unique Identification Authority, India Thursday, February 6, 2014 Finally, I would like to mention the use of a sophisticated biometrics database by the Unique Identification Authority (UIAI) in India. Even though the implementation of fingerprint databases dates back to 1858 in London, the Indian Government is implementing a state of the art biometrics system (fingerprints, iris, facial recognition) and demographic information to assign a 12-digit lifetime identification number to each individual. The Indian initiative is the biggest national registry in the world in terms of scale and accuracy and is planned taking in consideration technologies that are appropriate to the contrasts of India's social and economic reality. The database is shared between public and private agencies to promote access to public and private services, generate statistics regarding the population, monitor the transit across Indian territory and also the mobility of one of the world's greatest population. Once the body is networked and the biotechnological arrangement that makes that connection possible is pervasive to the point that the appearance of the biological body does not hint on her connected condition, which are the consequences of this fractalized flesh to the individual body? If the performance of the individual body is able to be monitored in the level of physiological data, does it imply in the installation of an internal surveillance system? Which are the dangers - a renewed eugenics - and potentials - health accountability - of such level of monitoring?
  7. 7. A cyborguian construct will be one that doesnt function in the local space it occupies, or even within n the boundaries of its own skin but through distributed agency remotely accessed and prompted from multiple locations. body hacking, gene mapping and soon neuro-jacking. Stelarc Thursday, February 6, 2014 Haraway  (1985)  sees  the  cyborg  as  representa7ve  to  our  condi7on  as  social  subjects,  as  'a  creature  of  both  fic7on  and  lived  social  reality’  (65).  She  uses  the  figure  of  the  cyborg  to  advocate  against   essen7alist  posi7ons,  let  them  be  biological  or  technological  determined,  depar7ng  from  the  premise  that  we  are  all  con7ngently  materialis7c  poli7cal  cons7tuted  chimeras.  To  prove  her  argument   on  our  co-­‐cons7tu7ve  technogenesis,  she  reminds  us  of  the  latest  advances  in  nano  technology  and  quan7c  theory  models  that  demonstrate  the  imprecisions  between  physical  and  non  physical   boundaries.  Haraway's  cyborg  can  be  thought  as  a  model  of  subjec7fica7on  that  is  ‘a  poli7cal  exercise  of  the  interrela7onship  between  science,  technology  and  power  as  a  ‘matrix  of  complex   domina7ons’  (Haraway,  1985,p100)  built  upon  otherness  and  difference.     Such  matrix,  Munster  (2006)  argues,  as  much  as  it  breaks  free  from  a  Cartesian-­‐ra7onalist  model  of  the  subject,  it  must  not  dispose  of  the  sensorial  capaci7es  of  bodies.  She  calls  for  an   understanding  of  a  techno-­‐digital  body  that  ques7ons  the  binary  separa7on  between  the  virtual  and  the  'real',  and  more  radically,  the  physical/biological  and  the  machinical/computa7onal.  She  asks   “What  if  we  were  to  produce  instead  a  different  genealogy  for  digital  engagements  with  the  machine,  one  that  gave  us  the  room  to  take  body,  sensa7on,  movement  and  condi7ons  such  as  place  and   dura7on  into  account?”  (Munster,  2006,  p3).  With  that,  Munster  (2006)  proposes  an  understanding  of  biotechnological  bodies  as  ongoing  embodiments,  understood  as  a  process  more  than  a  stable   state.  But  also  includes  movement,  dura7on  and  place  into  the  prac7ce  of  embodiment.  Manning  (2009)  echoes  Munster's  (2006)  argument  when  she  says  that  a  body  is  an  event,  a  dura7on,  a   taking  form  in  space,  plas7c  rhythms.  By  its  ac7on  in  space,  bodies  create  rela7onscapes  that  are  built  upon  “dynamic  cross-­‐genesis  of  the  body  and  its  constructed  environment,  where  the   environment  is  taken  to  include  not  only  the  architectural  surround  but  also  technological  and  cultural  extensions  of  it”  (p2).  The  ways  in  which  we  interact  with  space  construct  not  only  the  ways  we   "house"  in  the  body  or  the  milieus  we  are  embedded  in,  but  also  our  modes  of  thought.  The  occupa7on  of  physical  space  of  flesh  and  the  physical  occupa7on  of  architectural  space  render  some  sort   of  a  micropoli7cs  that  shape  our  capaci7es  of  self  reflec7on  about  our  embodied  condi7on.  For  this  reason  it  is  cri7cal  that  scholarship  regarding  contemporary  no7ons  of  space  making  take  into   considera7on  our  technogene7c  condi7on.
  8. 8. Ping Body, Stelarc Thursday, February 6, 2014 In the merging of molecular biology and computer science where “life is understood as data, flesh rendered programmable” technological protocols and the politics of life are co-constitutive as technical and social regulators of social practices. To conclude, I approach these examples of pervasive biotechnologies understanding that bodies are not fixed entities. Biotechnological embodiments are not biological bodies added with technological gadgets. They are metastable saturations where bodies don’t move across space - as autonomous, discrete unities; but create space - as they are part of its becoming. It is with this purpose that I call for a discussion of biotechnogenesis that is aware of the non- representational biological and sensorial capacities of the body. The networked biotechnological body can be thought as a performative body that does not traverse space but enacts it, unfolds in/with it. Its corporeal experience is not limited to the physical location of the body nor the limits of its skin. Its actions are distributed across the network in different locations and locally enacted according to the desires of the network. In this way, biotechnological arrangements can be thought can also be thought through its corporeal, the discursive and the normative affects.
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  12. 12. Metalosis Maligna a “mock“ documentary by Floris Kaayk about a future where a disease which affects patients with medical implants Thursday, February 6, 2014
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  14. 14. obrigada! Thanks! Fernanda Duarte CAPES and Fulbright Scholar North Carolina State University fduarte@ncsu.edu TWT @freducs Thursday, February 6, 2014