As our lives become increasingly intertwined with digital technology, we are gradually transforming in its presence and application: biologically, mentally and socially. This event on biometrics, seeks to define and analyse this relationship, through themes of embodiment and identity.
Cyber-cultural theory emerged in the early 1990s, commenting on the dynamics of human and computer relationships. In the introduction of Cybercultures: A Reader, editor David Bell questions: “if we rely so totally on technology to locate ourselves, to even be ourselves, does that mean we are still ‘human’- and is it still possible (or even desirable) to define the boundary between human and machine?”
Almost twenty years later this statement is even more relevant, as smartphones have become almost a fifth limb for many individuals. Ingrained in our behaviour, digital devices are transforming into extensions of our identity, providing us with a platform to explore the inner-self and new ways of presenting ourselves. In addition to this strong social bond between humans and their digital devices, their ability to capture data about biological and physical activity is growing alongside the rise of medical apps. Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, announced in 2018 that ‘we are entering the era of self service and mobility of data’ . With the launch of the NHS app, and the lean towards self-knowledge and the monitoring of everyday activities, our devices are taking an integral role in health and wellbeing.
This relationship between humans and machines is a step towards a future to be celebrated by transhumanists, who applaud the potential transformation in humans as a result of their engagement with technology. As defined by Richard A. L Jones, transhumanists believe that technology will have such an adverse effect on humans that “we will see new forms of the potential human beings in which the biological and technological seamlessly merge” . Others fear that we are relying too much on our digital devices, and that an extreme level of embodiment with technology could shape our behaviour.
Biometrics will explore the acceleration of human development from a range of perspectives, ranging from early cybercultural theory, to the future thinking of transhumanism.
We’re delighted to have the following confirmed speakers:
- Prof Carey Jewitt (IN-TOUCH, UCL, https://in-touch-digital.com/)
- Zara Worth (Artist – https://www.zaraworth.com/)
- Dr Feng Zhu (Teaching Fellow in Digital Media and Culture, Kings College London)
- Dr Rachael Kent (Project Lead ERC Ego-Media Project – http://www.ego-media.org/)
1. Bell, D (2000) Cybercultures reader: a user’s guide. Eds (Bell, D, Kennedy, B) The Cybercultures reader. Routledge. p4
2. Crouch, H (2018) NHS Digital CEO says healthcare is ‘entering the self-service era’. Digital Health. [Available online].
3. Jones, R (2016) Against Transhumanism: The delusion of technological transcendence. Soft Machines. [Available online].
Image: Online Identities, 2018 by McAinsh O.
Cognitive Sensations is a programme investigating the neurological effects of the digital age. Featuring talks, artworks and debates, the programme will uncover several concepts exploring the physiological and psychological changes occurring in humans, as a result of their engagement with digital technology.
Drawing on a range of neurological topics such as perception, memory and attention, Cognitive Sensations is taking place between November 2018 – May 2019, and is hosted by FACT in Liverpool and THECUBE in London, and curated by Gabriella Warren-Smith.