DIGC 202

Man vs. Machine



All I have ever wanted was a piece of technology that would detect when I was awake and make me a cup of coffee – of course to my exact preferences – each and every morning. And it turns out that it may just be on its way as the Internet of Things (IoT) is a raising phenomena in technology.

The Internet of Things are common physical items that connect to the Internet which enables the item to collect information about the changes in its surroundings and initiate action based on this information (Mitew, 2014).

Lost? So was I until Lupton (2013) explained the use of wearable technologies to track and collect data on a variety of things including exercise, diet, calories burnt, body temperature, brain function, moods, social encounters and the list goes on. These ‘Things’ blur the lines between human and object as they both transgress the boarders originally assigned to them (Mitew, 2014).

And this is concerning as it raises poignant issues such as how do we distinguish ourselves as humans when these sociable technologies are mimicking human behaviour?

But there are positives to have such integrated lives especially as we face an obesity epidemic. Apps have been designed that calorie count (MyFitnessPal), map runs (Nike Run) and improve brain function (Luminosity) as Constantini (2014) states that our bodies are radiating data loudly, continuously, honestly and individually. Why not capture that data and simplify it for an average individual to track and monitor their health? These applications and wearable technologies – such as FitBit – are our speakers and we no longer need qualifications to decipher what our bodies and minds are trying to tell us.

Constantini (2014) continues on to mention an app that enables you to take pictures of your freckles or moles and it will algorithmically tell you whether it has the potential to become cancerous or whether you need to consult a doctor. As someone who has skin that is prone to getting large freckles and a family history of skin cancer, this app is a beneficial addition to the other myriad of ‘health and fitness’ applications swimming around my phone.

The possibilities are endless. After Constantini’s video, there was another that popped up examining a new development which was a wearable device that would detect the early stages of seizures.

The increasingly sociable nature of technologies exemplifies how broad and beneficial the market is. But I feel that there are unexamined negative connotations regarding the constant collection of data as Lupton (2013) alluded to, “sharing data has implications not only for how users view and understand their own bodies but for how other members of the quantified self community view and respond to them”. Is this another avenue for aggregated negative body image? Are we going to over self-diagnose and miss an important symptom?

But what I really want to know is where is my morning coffee when I wake at 7am?




Constantini, L, 2014, ‘The Quantified Self: How Wearable Sensors Expand Human Potential’, Ted Talks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FESv2CgyJag

Lupton, D, 2013, ‘Understanding the Human Machine’, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, vol. 32 issue. 4, pp.25 – 30, accessed 23 October, http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6679313

Mitew, T, 2014, ‘The Internet of Things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces’, University of Wollongong, week 12 lecture, 23 October, http://prezi.com/1lgxfron1kj0/digc202-the-internet-of-things/

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One thought on “Man vs. Machine

  1. great article, this is really a catch 22 for me. i find the concept of being able to tweet my toaster, or talk to my oven really interesting and cool but at the same time i agree with you when you say that you believe it has some negative connotations for our style of living.

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