With the rise of artificial intelligence and the introduction of the 5G network, an internet-ran society is no longer a conspiracy but a reality. So what about internet-ran body parts? Could that be a possibility?
Yes, and it’s known as The Internet of Bodies.
According to RAND, The Internet of Bodies (IoB) falls under the umbrella of The Internet of Things (IoT). Similar to the smart devices that connect to the internet and operate without human-to-computer interaction, IoB devices offer a more intimate interplay between humans and gadgets. These devices monitor the human body, collect health metrics, and transmit data over the internet. Fitness trackers, artificial pancreases that automate insulin doses for diabetics, brain-computer interfaces that control prosthetic limbs, and smart diapers for babies are just a few examples.
IoB devices are all web-connected and then worn, injected, or surgically implanted into the human body. It’s divided into three sectors: external, internal, and embedded.
- External – wearable devices that can monitor health, track movements, and record locations.
- Internal – devices implanted into the body that monitors and controls various aspects of health.
- Embedded – when a machine and the human body are melded together and controlled by a remote.
Using IoB data could help improve preventative healthcare, increase employee productivity, and encourage people to become more active about their health.
However, The Internet of Bodies does pose a threat to our most intimate and personal information. A breach of data privacy, cybersecurity, and ethics are all at risk.
A RAND mathematician and lead author of the IoB study, Mary Lee, argued the following:
“When it comes to regulating IoB, it’s the Wild West.”
“There are many benefits to these technologies that some consider too great to be slowed down by policy. But we need to have a larger discussion about what those benefits will cost us—and how we might avoid some of the risk altogether.”
“There are vast amounts of data being collected, and the regulations about that data are really murky. There’s not a lot of clarity about who owns the data, how it’s being used, and even who it can be sold to.”
In regards to data privacy, IoB devices can track, record, and store our whereabouts, bodily functions, and thoughts. Depending on what’s being collected and how often, this poses a dangerous threat to one’s privacy.
Like any other IT device that stores information in the cloud, cyber-security breaches are also at risk. Unauthorized parties could leak private information, tamper with data, or lock users out of their accounts. Hackers could also manipulate patient medical devices, causing physical injuries or even death.
Ethical concerns like inequity and personal autonomy add to the dangers of data privacy and cyber-security leaks. Some groups could miss out on the benefits of IoB devices without having insurance coverage, access to the internet, or basic tech skills. And whether individuals will have ownership over their personal data or the option to opt-out of data collection is also being questioned.
Regardless of the notable risks connected with IoB data/devices, it doesn’t look like this advancement will come to a halt. So I can’t pretend to be outraged or surprised, especially when our smartphones, computers, television sets, and voice-activated technologies all pose a threat to our daily privacy and health.
Until Next Time…
Photo Credit: Now
Casey, C. (2021, January 26). The Internet of… Bodies? EDRM. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://edrm.net/2021/01/the-internet-of-bodies/.
Gardner, M. (2020, October 29). The Internet of Bodies Will Change Everything, for Better or Worse. RAND. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.rand.org/blog/articles/2020/10/the-internet-of-bodies-will-change-everything-for-better-or-worse.html.
Lee, M., Boudreaux, B., Chaturvedi, R., Romanosky, S., & Downing, B. (n.d.). The Internet of Bodies Opportunities, Risks, and Governance. RAND. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR3226.html.
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