Belly Up

Wellness discourse taps into longstanding associations between intuition and the gut

Insomniac Technologies

Although sleep wearables seem to promote rest, what they actually promote is rest reconfigured as productivity. A properly-charged wearable is always awake, acting as a sort of surrogate, low-level consciousness that keeps running and recording even while you temporarily abdicate your own

Shadow of a Doubt

The idea of “living with Covid” means inhabiting a position that is fundamentally unstable — accepting that we do not know what the future will look like, or whether a “return to normal” is even what we’re trying for. Ultimately, it requires us to give up the idea of closure in favor of a truer ambiguity.


Our Bodies, Ourselves

The internet of medical things supposedly paves the way to transforming the human body into a machine that can be monitored nonstop, improving or saving the lives of millions. Yet this new kind of “internal surveillance” from afar has many risks. The biodata collected by wearables and smartwatches have inaccuracies, and patients “subjective” observations may be ignored.

Care Package

Changing how we care for our sick, elderly, and disabled would be liberating for undercompensated laborers and uncompensated family members alike - the problem is that the thought of being tended to by machines just too painful. As strange as it is to ask, how do we reconcile the human need for care with the human need for other humans?

Heal Thyself

New regimes of data collection, aggregation, and analysis have the potential to revolutionize systems for the better, but they also threaten us with new forms of control, the ramifications of which we have only begun to consider. Like most other things in the datafied world, personalization is a byword for surveillance and regulation. As medical privacy becomes more and more unattainable and our bodies become increasingly quantified, the question becomes whether these “advancements” in care will have our best interests in mind.

In Labor

Artificial wombs may help undermine the idea that women’s lives are — and should be — invested in making and caring for babies. But automating childbirth won’t automatically abolish all forms of gendered labor. Gender has shown an astonishing ability to reinvent itself according to the particular technological needs of capitalism.

Bugs as Features

A growing awareness of the enteric nervous system as a signal mediator between the microbiome and the human body has led to comparisons to data transmission — what one reviewer at Nature has termed “bacterial broadband.” Endowing the organisms that live inside our bodies  with the qualities of software lends credence and charm to the possibility of a complete system reboot.

Necessary Purity

The case for the “reality” of food allergy is complicated by the current state of food allergy diagnostics. Food allergies trouble biomedical biases about the borders and definitions of disease, and cannot be fought with oversimplified motions of purity. We must remain vigilant that necessary purity practices do not translate into exploitive and exclusionary purity politics.

Mercy Markets

There is always hardship in the world, always a person in need of a leg up financially, but social media have collapsed these tragedies indiscriminately into our lives, forcing us to decide when and how to give on the basis of how well suffering has been packaged for our consumption.

Life Support

When you depend on glycemic control, blood goes into your device, data comes out, and self-tracking is not a choice. Upwards of eight times daily I press a spring-loaded lancet against a fingertip, release the mechanism, and massage the fleshy digit until a neat globule of blood pools upon it. I peer at the small screen as I wait for my body to talk in numbers.