Scripts and Re-scriptings of Self-Tracking Technologies: Health and Labor in an Age of Hyper-Connectivity

  • Dae-cheong Ha


Diverse future scenarios are presented in the expectation that the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” will come up, and one of them is a hyper-connected society where technologies such as the internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence converge. We, however, have paid little attention to meaningful signs that can be found in practice, allowing our imagination to rely mainly on future societies predicted by technology visionaries. In this vein, this study explores the settings and practices of wearable self-tracking technologies, which attempt to make humans part of complex networks of hyper-connected society. It examines how our bodies and lives are (re)shaped in an age of hyper-connectivity by analyzing the practices of self-tracking technologies, which steadily and automatically transform users’ everyday lives and bodily responses into a series of data. Drawing on the theory of Science and Technology Studies (STS), this article investigates how “scripts,” which were initially written to expect and define both humans’ and nonhumans’ actions and their relationships, have to be re-written in different settings in which these technologies are situated. That is, the original scripts of these technologies written in well-known “Quantified Self movement” are transformed and re-inscribed in concrete settings such as digital healthcare and labor management. Consequently, in contrast to the first script which expected self-empowerment and self-improvement of users, new scripts are rewritten as a “digital nudge,” “extreme Taylorism,” and “intimate surveillance” in these settings. This article concludes that we need to sincerely ask and answer ethical questions concerning these technologies for their realized script to form the world in which we want to live. These efforts to incessantly raise and answer questions concerning decision-making authority, privacy, data ownership, security, and reliability in concrete settings will contribute to making the hyper-connected society that we want to live in.

Author Biography

Dae-cheong Ha

Korea National Institute for Bioethics Policy