Empathetic things

Juergen Moritz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In recent years we have been facing a new model of computation: smart
technologies that help people to take care of themselves through the collection
and quantification of data. These technologies are personalized and
present themselves as being able to read and understand the conditions, situations and actions of their users. Such ‘empathetic things’ will not only
pose novel new challenges for their future technological development using
neuro-science, cognitive-science and nano-science. These devices will also
pose an ontological challenge for us as human beings. They will have the
potential to profoundly influence how people think about human development,
intelligence, and intimacy. Health and fitness devices are currently
among the most popular tools, but self-monitoring practices can be found
in many areas of everyday life – including culture, work, and learning. They
have the management of life as their focus, and play an important role in a
broader trend towards self-improvement and self-cultivation – often framed
as ‘quantified self’, ‘the good life’, ‘sustainable lifestyle’, ‘healthy living’, and
‘work productivity.’ Leveraging the deep psychological desire for self-mastering
and self-optimization, they urge individuals to understand their
bodies, and habits as something that can be measured and transformed.
As such, these relational technologies function as prototypical technologies
of the self (Foucault 1988) and change the dynamics of producing and
expressing subjectivity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransdiscourse 2
Subtitle of host publicationTurbulence and Reconstruction
EditorsJill Scott
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783110470932
ISBN (Print)3110469812
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2016


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