Theorising Personal Medical Devices: New Perspectives
18th-19th September 2014 Post-doctoral Suite, 16 Mill Lane, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Fuelled by the accelerating pace of technological development and a general shift to personalised, patient-led medicine alongside the growing Quantified Self and Big Data movements, the emerging field of personal medical devices is one which is advancing rapidly across multiple domains and disciplines – so rapidly that conceptual and empirical understandings of personal medical devices, and their clinical, social and philosophical implications, often lag behind new developments and interventions. Personal medical devices – devices that are attached to, worn by, interacted with, or carried by individuals for the purposes of generating biomedical data and/or carrying out medical interventions with/on the person concerned – have become increasingly significant in clinical and extra-clinical contexts owing to a range of factors including the growth of multimorbidity and chronic disease in ageing populations and the increasing sophistication and miniaturisation of personal devices themselves.
The aim of this symposium is to consider recent theoretical developments in the humanities and social sciences in relation to personal medical devices, and to address important gaps in understanding such as the differences between wearable and non-wearable devices, the ontological implications of personal devices for concepts of the body, the self, and technology, and the extent to which such questions may arise with particular force owing to ‘new’ technologies.
The symposium will take place at the University of Cambridge over two days, with the first day consisting of papers and keynote presentations, and with the second day consisting of further papers and a concluding panel of invited discussants from a range of backgrounds including computing science, clinical medicine, technology, and philosophy.
The symposium will combine invited and submitted papers from established and emerging scholars to consider how recent theoretical literature can shed light on current debates surrounding personal medical devices these and other important issues. Some of the questions that papers may address include:
How ‘personal’ are personal medical devices?
How new are ‘new’ medical technologies?
What are the implications of personal medical devices for enduring philosophical dualities such as mind/body and self/society?
What are the implications of personal medical devices for understandings of illness, medicine, and technology?
How can the interaction of diverse theoretical perspectives drive new conceptual understandings of personal medical devices?