The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 17 No. 2 (Summer 2015)

On Not Being There: The Data-Driven Body at Work and at Play

Rebecca Lemov

The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Summer 2015

(Volume 17 | Issue 2)

The protagonist of William Gibson’s 2014 science-fiction novel The Peripheral, Flynne Fisher, works remotely in a way that lends a new and fuller sense to that phrase. The novel features a double future: One set of characters inhabits the near future, ten to fifteen years from the present, while another lives seventy years on, after a breakdown of the climate and multiple other systems that has apocalyptically altered human and technological conditions around the world.

In that “further future,”1 only 20 percent of the Earth’s human population has survived. Each of these fortunate few is well off and able to live a life transformed by healing nanobots, somaticized e-mail (which delivers messages and calls to the roof of the user’s mouth), quantum computing, and clean energy. For their amusement and profit, certain “hobbyists” in this future have the Borgesian option of cultivating an alternative path in history—it’s called “opening up a stub”—and mining it for information as well as labor.

Flynne, the remote worker, lives on one of those paths. A young woman from the American Southeast, possibly Appalachia or the Ozarks, she favors cutoff jeans and resides in a trailer, eking out a living as a for-hire sub playing video games for wealthy aficionados. Recruited by a mysterious entity that is beta-testing drones that are doing “security” in a murky skyscraper in an unnamed city, she thinks at first that she has been taken on to play a kind of video game in simulated reality. As it turns out, she has been employed to work in the future as an “information flow”—low-wage work, though the pay translates to a very high level of remuneration in the place and time in which she lives.

What is of particular interest is the fate of Flynne’s body. Before she goes to work she must tend to its basic needs (nutrition and elimination), because during her shift it will effectively be “vacant.” Lying on a bed with a special data-transmitting helmet attached to her head, she will be elsewhere, inhabiting an ambulatory robot carapace—a “peripheral”—built out of bio-flesh that can receive her consciousness.

Bodies in this data-driven economic backwater of a future world economy are abandoned for long stretches of time—disposable, cheapened, eerily vacant in the temporary absence of “someone at the helm.” Meanwhile, fleets of built bodies, grown from human DNA, await habitation.

Alex Rivera explores similar territory in his Mexican sci-fi film The Sleep Dealer (2008), set in a future world after a wall erected on the US–Mexican border has successfully blocked migrants from entering the United States. Digital networks allow people to connect to strangers all over the world, fostering fantasies of physical and emotional connection. At the same time, low-income would-be migrant workers in Tijuana and elsewhere can opt to do remote work by controlling robots building a skyscraper in a faraway city, locking their bodies into devices that transmit their labor to the site. In tank-like warehouses, lined up in rows of stalls, they “jack in” by connecting data-transmitting cables to nodes implanted in their arms and backs. Their bodies are in Mexico, but their work is in New York or San Francisco, and while they are plugged in and wearing their remote-viewing spectacles, their limbs move like the appendages of ghostly underwater creatures. Their life force drained by the taxing labor, these “sleep dealers” end up as human discards.

Flickering In and Out

What is surprising about these sci-fi conceits, from “transitioning” in The Peripheral to “jacking in” in The Sleep Dealer, is how familiar they seem, or at least how closely they reflect certain aspects of contemporary reality. Almost daily, we encounter people who are there but not there, flickering in and out of what we think of as presence. A growing body of research explores the question of how users interact with their gadgets and media outlets, and how in turn these interactions transform social relationships. The defining feature of this heavily mediated reality is our presence “elsewhere,” a removal of at least part of our conscious awareness from wherever our bodies happen to be. As MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle has shown in pioneering work that extends from The Second Self (1984) to Alone Together (2012), the social ramifications of these new disembodied (or semi-disembodied) arrangements are radical. They introduce a “new kind of intimacy with machines,” a “special relationship” in the space beyond the screen, and a withering away of once-central, physically mediated social bonds. Turkle’s focus, and the focus of much literature on video-game playing and online behavior, is on these engrossing relationships between humans (particularly children) and computers, the social fallout of those relationships, and the resulting effects on self-formation, as hauntingly described in an early work by Turkle on “computer holding power”:

The [thirteen-year-old] girl is hunched over the console. When the tension momentarily lets up, she looks up and says, “I hate this game.” And when the game is over she wrings her hands, complaining that her fingers hurt. For all of this, she plays every day “to keep up my strength.” She neither claims nor manifests enjoyment in any simple sense. One is inclined to say she is more “possessed” by the game than playing it.2

The young teens Turkle watched playing Asteroids and Space Invaders are now in their mid-forties, and the dynamic of absorption, tension, possession, and disappearance is, of course, no longer confined to games. Much discussion of data-gathering technologies in daily domains focuses on their inescapability, as Tom McCarthy recently pointed out: “Every website that you visit, each keystroke and click-through are archived: even if you’ve hit delete or empty trash it’s still there, lodged within some data fold or enclave, some occluded-yet-retrievable avenue of circuitry.”3

Self-Knowledge Through Numbers

But seemingly undaunted by the extent to which we are now routinely subjected to the data gathering of others, many people are now driven to accumulate endless quantities of data about themselves, their bodies, their activities, their moods, even their thoughts and reveries. The “most connected human on earth,” Chris Dancy, a former information technology specialist who took to gathering data about himself after being laid off from his job, bills himself as a “Data Exhaust Cartographer,” “The Versace of Silicon Valley,” and “Cyborg.”4 He bedecks his body with myriad wearables and promotes himself as the locus of up to 700 devices or online services that collect, crunch, save, and collate the data he generates. The metrics he tracks include pulse, REM sleep, skin temperature, and mood, among others. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of this self-tracking eventually led Dancy to a crisis of alienation. He became increasingly aware that his intense connection was also a form of disconnection: “I was coming slightly unhinged with the amount of information I had about myself. It started to make me feel slightly detached from reality.” As a result, he says, he was “almost waterboarded with awareness. It’s one thing to Google yourself. It’s another to Google…your life. I could see too much.”5

Despite his discomfort, Dancy seems unable to disconnect, unhook, or go offline. He is not alone. The focus of much recent interest in the entrance of tracking technology, counting devices, and calculation strategies into the domain of self-understanding is the Quantified Self (QS) movement. Founded in 2007 through the efforts of Kevin Kelly, then of Wired magazine, and Gary Wolf, a Bay Area writer, the movement brought together self-trackers ranging from the ardent to the merely curious. Under the banner of “self-knowledge through numbers”—those numbers gathered through biometrics, sociometrics, and psychometrics—enthusiasts combine platforms and tools to find new ways of gathering data and teasing out correlations. “Once you know the facts, you can live by them” is another guiding principle of the movement, and QS-ers continue to form groups across the United States and in thirty other countries, meeting weekly to share results. During the week of March 15, 2015, for example, groups came together in London, Washington, St. Louis, Denton, Texas, and Thessaloniki, Greece. Typically, such gatherings report on their tracking of a range of phenomena from the mundane (cups of coffee drunk per day, pulse rate, sleep hours) to the more esoteric (“spiritual well-being,” scores on personality tests or a “narcissism index,” or a repository of “all the ideas I’ve had since 1984”) via devices that might be attached to the wrist (Fitbit), the lower back (UpRight), the chest (Spire), or eating utensils (HAPIfork), if not stowed away in one’s pockets (as smartphone apps).

The movement marked its arrival in the cultural mainstream with the publication in 2010 of Wolf’s manifesto, “The Data-Driven Life,” in the New York Times Magazine. His fascination with the obsessively self-regarding project came through most clearly in his example of the tracker who had kept all of his ideas for the past several decades:

Mark Carranza—[who] makes his living with computers—has been keeping a detailed, searchable archive of all the ideas he has had since he was 21. That was in 1984. I realize that this seems impossible. But I have seen his archive, with its million plus entries, and observed him using it.… Most thoughts are tagged with date, time, and location. What for other people is an inchoate flow of mental life is broken up into elements and cross-referenced.6

Wolf went on to describe how numbers inexorably enter the domain of the personal, insisting that no place should be considered sacrosanct or beyond the probing sensors of quantification.

Wolf was so surprised, he later told me, by the contempt and mockery he and his fellow self-trackers came in for after the article appeared that he almost came to regret writing it. Much of the online comment focused on the atrophied selves and dehumanizing effects seemingly produced by the self-tracking enterprise: “These unfortunate people spend so much time with computers they have begun thinking about their own person as a machine,” wrote one reader. Another comment was even more barbed: “This tracking seems like taking self-centeredness to the nth degree. It is basically OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder] behavior with a fancy title. How about ‘tracking outward,’ seeing how much time we spend on being with and helping others? Perhaps that is the secret to a longer, healthier life.”

Those and other critics clearly saw the self-tracking obsession as navel-gazing, inward-turning, computer-oriented geek behavior, typical of those who have lost contact with the external world, with other human beings, and with “what matters,” in their eagerness to render the world knowable, computable. At stake, it seems, is nothing less than the transformation or deformation of the “human.” Writing in the monthly magazine Prospect, literature scholar and psychoanalyst Josh Cohen raised the pertinent question:

Sifting through the talks, blog posts, and articles daily uploaded by Quantified Self disciples, you soon become aware of an anxious insistence on numbers as a means rather than an end. All this data is meant to spur us to love ourselves better and run our lives more efficiently. And yet it’s hard not to hear, lurking in this promise of self-possession, the threat of numbers dispossessing us, of becoming a feverish addiction we can’t kick. Can even the most adept multi-tasker really live the life they’re simultaneously tracking?7

Other critics see the QS movement as part of information technology’s more widespread induction of people into “a perpetual state of shallow performativity.”8

What is neglected or bracketed in both the criticism and the celebration of self-tracking is the curious status of the body that serves as the passively patient platform for a self’s “remote” activity or as the hooked-up object of endless measurement and observation—or indeed as both. Critics and enthusiasts of this strange reality both neglect the peculiar Möbius-strip form taken by the body as the increasingly phantom-like self flickers in and out of its confines. The status of the body that holds these devices, the body as platform—the body that is vacated—is curiously invisible.

Clickworkers, Gold Farmers, Porn Zappers

Where the body can be seen, I believe, is in the menial, low-wage, data-driven labor that is created at the downtrodden edges of expanding economies where virtual domains meet brick-and-mortar enterprises. One clear picture of the simultaneously abandoned and surveilled body emerges in research on the most menial work: collective labor markets harnessing human computing abilities. “Clickwork” is the mass labor of many hands on many keyboards, their collective output aggregated by means of Internet tools such as Amazon Mechanical Turk. Through AMT, individuals and businesses (known as Requesters) can crowdsource complex tasks that computer intelligence is currently unequipped to complete. Amazon and other companies cannot afford to regulate this labor through traditional means; instead, administrators filter it through “light” automated management rather than top-down, heavy-handed control. Microwork ethnographer Lilly Irani describes how, for example, management of a work force of 10,000 to 60,000 for a particular project can never affordably be handled by means of Foucauldian “disciplinary” techniques, which carefully mold individual workers physically and mentally for their tasks. Rather, management must operate automatically, with a light touch: Instead of using surveillance to assess performance, “requesters sort desirable workers through faint signals of mouse clicks, text typed, and other digital traces read closely as potential indicators.”9 Most often, workers work alone at home on their own computers.

Repetitive work in the virtual sphere, in addition to being isolating, often necessitates less attention to bodily postures and needs, and may promote ongoing abuse of the body by motivating the worker to conform to algorithmically defined productivity goals that affect the body at its performance limits. Two examples are China-based World of Warcraft “gold farmers” and content moderators in the Philippines who zap porn and disturbing images from social media sites for cash.

Many of them based in suburban Manila in former elementary schools and other unlikely sites, the content moderators perform the unsavory job of repeatedly adjudicating whether images posted to Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, or other social networking sites are sufficiently offensive to be eliminated from view. Moderators at PCs sit at long tables for hours, an “army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us.” By some estimates, the content-moderating army is 100,000 strong, twice the size of Google’s labor pool, and many of its members have college degrees. Such workers suffer both physical pain and psychological distress. Jane Stevenson, of the British organization Workplace Wellbeing, which supports traumatized workers in high-pressure digital jobs, says that even after a worker has quit such a job, he or she may continue to be haunted by disturbing images. Looking for hours at YouTube videos of unspeakable abuse, many become paranoid and uneasy about leaving their children with sitters.10

In a profile of other potentially abusive digital-work environments, technology writer Julian Dibbell emphasizes their “surreal” quality.11 One such workplace is that of Chinese “gold farmers,” who participate in multiplayer online role-playing games, known as MMOs. In these games, which can involve thousands of participants, players advance by earning extra powers and levels of play not only through hard hours at the keyboard but also (particularly among Europeans and Americans who can pay real money for virtual gold or game goods) by buying them online. In the early years of MMOs, these transactions took place on eBay, but now there are “high-volume online specialty sites like the virtual-money superstores IGE, BroGame, and Massive Online Gaming Sales—multimillion-dollar businesses [that] offer one-stop, one-click shopping and instant delivery of in-game cash.” Gold farmers work shifts in “sweatshops,” advancing through MMOs so that richer players can jump effortlessly to higher levels. Such digital toil is not so different from that of Chinese laborers who work long hours to produce cheap real-world products for the global market. Yet the alienation of the body is perhaps more extreme because it is more unaccounted for. Dibbell describes the common condition of such laborers, exemplified by the routine of one particular gold farmer:

Consider, for example, a typical interlude in the workday of the 21-year-old gold farmer Min Qinghai. Min spends most of his time within the confines of a former manufacturing space 200 miles south of Nanjing in the midsize city of Jinhua. He works two floors below the plywood bunks of the workers’ dorm where he sleeps. In two years of 84-hour farming weeks, he has rarely stepped outside for longer than it takes to eat a meal. But he has died more times than he can count. And last September on a warm afternoon, halfway between his lunch and dinner breaks, it was happening again.12

What was happening again was that Min was being “exterminated” online, within the confines of the game. Although the Chinese gold farmers sit relatively motionless in their rows of chairs facing screens in nondescript rooms, they are frequently subjected to targeted “kills” by Western players who, playing purely for “fun,” regard the Chinese players as mercenaries. Each time they “die” (in World of Warcraft or other games), their pace of play slows down and they lose money rebooting their characters.13 Art imitates life in The Peripheral, where Flynne Fisher does online gaming for hire and endures similar abuse: A rich man who played the game himself instead of outsourcing got a charge from killing the avatars of people like Flynne because “it really cost them.… People on her squad were feeding their children with what they earned playing, and maybe that was all they had.”14

Economic inequality, whether in fictional 2030 or actual 2015, plays out in online spaces and even extends to forced labor. Forbes magazine recently reported that Chinese prisons forced inmates to gold-farm in twelve-hour shifts without pay.15 The coercive element highlights arrangements that also exist in the putatively voluntary forms of loot farming.

Extensive digital tracking of workplace activity adds to bodily stresses. An American Management Association survey found that 66 percent of US-based employers monitor the Internet use of their employees, 45 percent track employee keystrokes, and 43 percent monitor employee e-mail. UPS uses a system, Kronos, under which each of its delivery trucks is equipped with 200 sensors, which feed information back to headquarters about driving speed, seatbelt use, and delivery efficiency. Even trying to cheat the system can hurt the worker. Drivers commonly evade the seatbelt sensor by keeping the seatbelt locked but not strapping themselves in. UPS can claim higher safety compliance even though workers are actually more endangered. A driver recently described cutting corners, slapping delivery slips on doors, and sprinting from site to site to keep up with impossibly demanding quotas. (After eight years, he sustained such extensive spinal damage that his doctor told him it would be impossible to treat.)16 Work-force management systems such as Kronos and “enterprise social” platforms like Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce’s Chatter, and (coming soon) Facebook at Work operate on similar principles of efficiency and maximization.17 With the emergence of “flexible,” short-term regimes of service-based labor and the eclipse of social welfare programs, the self can increasingly be seen as an entrepreneurial project and a risk-taking device.18 If the self is risk taking, the body is risk absorbing.

New labor forces of clickworkers, gold farmers, porn zappers, Starbucks flextimers, and Amazon warehouse fulfillers bring to light more clearly the consequences of both the abandonment and extreme monitoring of the body. At the same time, because such workers are often desperate for work and less picky about conditions, they are less likely to incorporate practices or technologies that are becoming increasingly common among upper management as methods of counteracting the physical toll of excessive “screen time” and “chair time”: exercise regimes such as yoga or extreme fitness, or office equipment such as “stand-up desks.”19

The Detachable Body and the Mobile Self

Despite the fact that the vacant or overly tracked body is increasingly the condition of people at play, and (especially) at certain kinds of repetitive and exploitative work, the body remains in the background of our awareness. It is perhaps no coincidence that both Gibson and Rivera focus on situations of wrenching economic inequality across globalized domains of capital transfer. At this level and scale of human activity, the strangeness of bodily conditions becomes more obvious through a kind of exaggeration that de-familiarizes what we have come to take for granted. It is not that we are completely unaware of real stories of warehouse workers in companies such as Amazon who are digitally tracked and prodded as they go about the work of fulfilling online orders. Dystopian fiction only amplifies and catalogs the indignities of existing dehumanizing practices. “They’re Watching You at Work,” declares an Atlantic headline, while a public radio report on “the data-driven workplace of the future” describes employees who ruin their bodies keeping up with “telematic” surveillance devices that track every keystroke they make, every latte they whip, every package they deliver.20

These conditions are moving inexorably up the corporate ladder and economic strata, even as they dissolve ordinary hierarchies. The Quantified Self, once seen as a respite from work, is arriving in the workplace in the form of perpetual self- and management-imposed surveillance. (As mentioned above, the quality of this surveillance is “lighter” and more flexible than traditional panoptical oversight.) Among higher-wage workers, the Quantified Self at work takes the form of socially networked goal setting, in which workers prod each other or companies target “millennials” (who are thought to respond more readily to these new forms of what could be called cheerful tracking). Santa Monica-based Enkata, for example, a human resources firm that hires out data-driven platforms to prod claims and sales workers into higher productivity, explicitly eschews keystroke monitoring in favor of “meaningful data” and “predictive analytics to help all members of the sales organization work smarter and close more deals.”21

The body of today’s digitally driven worker evokes those images of bodies stored in suspended animation in various movies from the 1970s onward, including Coma (1978) and Altered States (1980). A number of films explored the horrifying possibility of human bodies being used as food (Soylent Green, 1973), batteries (The Matrix, 1999), or intelligence systems drained in the process of use (Minority Report, 2002). By contrast, James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), itself the product of the work of thousands of animators and digital engineers, strikes a more hopeful, even utopian note. It is a film in which a disabled vet is enabled by technological prostheses to inhabit a mythical world while leaving his wired-up body behind. The shocking vulnerability of his temporarily discarded physical form becomes all too evident in the climactic battle, but the hero ultimately prevails by sundering the connection to the body and living on in the fantastic realm of the Na’vi, who have their own, organic way of “plugging in”—inserting their braids into the neural cords of horse-like animals and operating them through their thoughts. To be more fully human, or post-human, will mean finding a new way of plugging in, jacking in, or transmitting.

Whether fantastic or horrifying, the picture presented in these films is that of a body increasingly detached—or made detachable—from a mobile self. This body, because of the systemic shocks it bears, its use as a platform or a source of energy, and even its inescapable mortality, exemplifies what political scientist Timothy Pachirat in Every Twelve Seconds, an ethnographic study of work in a Nebraska slaughterhouse, calls the politics of sight.

Exploring the conditions of a low-wage job typically sought by criminals, undocumented workers, or other desperate souls, Pachirat finds that the slaughterhouse operates to make the repetitive acts of killing—which take place “every twelve seconds,” hence the title—invisible even to 99 percent of those who work there. Only one out of 280 workers is responsible for firing the fatal shot into the head of the cow. The shooter’s work is visible to only one or two others on the killing floor, and he becomes the subject of mythology throughout the abattoir. (A common rumor is that the shooter undergoes constant psychotherapy to fend off work-produced psychosis.) Workers stationed throughout the rendering process, who spend hours each day repetitively detaching the limbs and extracting the livers and other viscera of the recently executed creatures, suffer difficult work conditions and marginalization that mirror the unseen suffering of the slaughtered animals. In the end, Pachirat argues, this cultivated “invisibility” (which, in a sense, is the main service offered by the modern slaughterhouse and its disassembly lines) is supremely necessary social and political labor. It allows most people in the “outside world” to act without knowing the consequences, to consume without knowing the cost, and to benefit from others’ work without knowing the source.

It is, in fact, on such exquisitely chosen “invisibilities” that the collective delusions and collusions of the modern economy run, particularly as that economy merges with the virtual realm. To extend the analogy, just as there is a public need for packaged meat that does not bear the evidence of its origins or even of the fact that it once lived, there is likewise a public desire for products (be they iPhones or UPS packages) that sleekly obscure the conditions under which they were made or made possible. Pachirat tells of “work that remains hidden from the majority of those who literally feed off such labor.”22 As literary scholar Katherine Hayles recently remarked, the body “has an inability to lie” in the way thoughts can and do: “This is exactly what consciousness lacks.”23 The body offers a kind of resistance and testimony to realities that some would like us simply to ignore. We need to heed the body.

Endnotes

  1. Gibson describes it in an interview with Karin L. Kross posted at Tor.com, “William Gibson on Urbanism, Science Fiction, and Why The Peripheral Weirded Him Out,” October 29, 2014; http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/10/william-gibson-the-peripheral-interview. Spoiler alert: Please skip the next three paragraphs if you would rather not know some of the plot details of The Peripheral.
  2. Sherry Turkle, “Video Games and Computer Holding Power,” The New Media Reader (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 500. Originally published 1984; http://www.newmediareader.com/book_samples/nmr-34-turkle.pdf.
  3. Tom McCarthy, “The death of writing—if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google,” The Guardian.com, March 7, 2015; http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/07/tom-mccarthy-death-writing-james-joyce-working-google.
  4. Chris Dancy website; http://www.chrisdancy.com. Accessed April 24, 2015.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Gary Wolf, “The Data-Driven Life,” New York Times Magazine, April 28, 2010; http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02self-measurement-t.html?_r=0.
  7. Josh Cohen, “Quantified Self: The Algorithm of Life,” Prospect, February 5, 2014; http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/arts-and-books/quantified-self-the-algorithm-of-life.
  8. Dennis Tenen, “Writing Technology,” Public Books blog; http://www.publicbooks.org/fiction/writing-technology. Accessed April 24, 2015.
  9. Lilly Irani, “Microworking the Crowd,” Limn, no. 2, March 2012; http://limn.it/microworking-the-crowd/.
  10. Adrien Chen, “The Workers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed,” Wired, October 23, 2014; http://www.wired.com/2014/10/content-moderation/.
  11. Julian Dibbell, “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer,” New York Times Magazine, June 17, 2007; http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/17/magazine/17lootfarmers-t.html?pagewanted=all.
  12. Ibid. Dibbell adds that “Min would like to explain to ‘real’ players that he is playing for different stakes: ‘I have this idea in mind that regular players should understand that people do different things in the game,’ he said. ‘They are playing. And we are making a living.’”
  13. Ibid.
  14. William Gibson, The Peripheral (New York: G.P. Putnam Sons, 2014), Chapter 13.
  15. Paul Tassi, “Chinese Prisoners Forced to Farm World of Warcraft Gold,” Forbes, June 2, 2011; http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2011/06/02/chinese-prisoners-forced-to-farm-world-of-warcraft-gold/. An estimated 80 percent of all gold farmers are in China, which, according to the CIA World Factbook, has the largest population of Internet users in the world. China is thought to be home to 100,000 full-time gold farmers.
  16. The UPS monitoring system is described by Esther Kaplan in “The Spy Who Fired Me: The Human Costs of Workplace Monitoring,” Harper’s Magazine, March 2015; http://harpers.org/archive/2015/03/the-spy-who-fired-me/.
  17. On the “actuarial self” and “responsibilization,” see Nikolas Rose, Inventing Our Selves, Chapter 7, “Governing Enterprising Individuals” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  18. On the calculation of risk as it relates to the definition of self, see eds. Limor Darash and Paul Rabinow, Modes of Uncertainty: Anthropological Cases (Chicago: University of Chicago, in press).
  19. Evgeny Morozov, “The Mindfulness Racket,” New Republic, February 23, 2014; http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116618/technologys-mindfulness-racket.
  20. Kai Ryssdal [interviewer], “The Data-Driven Workplace of the Future” Marketplace [radio broadcast], March 3, 2015; http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/data-driven-workplace-future.
  21. “Know More Close More,” Enkata website; http://www.enkata.com. Accessed April 14, 2015.
  22. Timothy Pachirat, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011), Chapter IX.
  23. Hayles made this comment at “The Total Archive,” a conference at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Cambridge University, March 19–20, 2015. She has developed these ideas in several publications, in which she figures the body as a site of feedback, not a reified thing. Cf. N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Rebecca Lemov is associate professor of the history of science at Harvard University and the author of World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes, and Men (2005) and Database of Dreams (forthcoming 2015). She is also a coauthor of How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Rationality in the Cold War (2013).

Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 17.2 (Summer 2015). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.

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