Implantable Smart Technologies : Defining the ‘Sting’ in Data and Device

Health Care Analysis 24 (3):210-227 (2016)

Abstract

In a world surrounded by smart objects from sensors to automated medical devices, the ubiquity of ‘smart’ seems matched only by its lack of clarity. In this article, we use our discussions with expert stakeholders working in areas of implantable medical devices such as cochlear implants, implantable cardiac defibrillators, deep brain stimulators and in vivo biosensors to interrogate the difference facets of smart in ‘implantable smart technologies’, considering also whether regulation needs to respond to the autonomy that such artefacts carry within them. We discover that when smart technology is deconstructed it is a slippery and multi-layered concept. A device’s ability to sense and transmit data and automate medicine can be associated with the ‘sting’ of autonomy being disassociated from human control as well as affecting individual, group, and social environments.

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