“We’ve mapped the world, now let’s map human health” – Platform economy and the mapping of bodies

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Werkleitz Festival 2021 move to …

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#Digital Bodies and Senses
“We’ve mapped the world, now let’s map human health” – Platform economy and the mapping of bodies
3. 7. 2021
DE 2021
Anna-Verena Nosthoff, Felix Maschewski und Timo Daum (v.l.n.r.)
Foto: Michel Klehm
Felix Maschewski
Foto: Michel Klehm
Anna-Verena Nosthoff
Foto: Michel Klehm

The digitalisation of the entire world will also encompass the human body. In the internet of things the data-generated body has itself become a medium. Gadgets and apps allow for the non-stop tracking of bodily functions, be it the heartbeat, sweat or brainwaves. It is no longer merely about the number of kilometres walked, calories burned or better sleep – but about the monetisation of the desire for self-control and self-optimisation.

Back in January 2019, when the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, was asked in an interview what will be the most important service offered by his company in the future, he answered unequivocally: “health”. This short response describes not just the goal of a single company, but is – as the philosopher Anna-Verena Nosthoff and cultural studies and economics scholar Felix Maschewski will argue in their presentation – the expression of a powerful monopolistic tendency of Big Tech. IT companies like Alphabet, Apple and Amazon have already discovered health as a research and business field and have been carrying out – especially during the current pandemic – targeted “health studies” with smart watches and other wearable items. The pattern is becoming more and more clear: these devices will develop over time from chic accessories and smart fitness trackers to individual and collective health care tools. In this way, multi-dimensional (self) tracking practices are becoming the norm, the “quantified self” is being turned ever more irrevocably into a “quantified collective”, and what authors call “a society of wearables” is emerging.

The session will be moderated by Timo Daum, an expert in digital capitalism.

Lecture with Anna-Verena Nosthoff (DE) and Felix Maschewski (DE), followed by a conversation with Timo Daum (DE)