What is it about?

This is a paper discussing the problem of the transformation of our body through the technologies of enhancement. In various fields of research, the enhancement of our bodily capacity has become an acute problem, shown in such problems as doping in sports, medical excesses and the practice of neurosurgery for improved memory. In this paper, I have taken up two distinctive areas, namely the international elite sports and the memory controversy, so as to compare the different ways of understanding enhancement in each area as well as the different ways of such efforts for enhancement are defined and assessed. Two different types of controversy, namely one on the issues in sports related to such topics as the legitimacy of the artificial legs of Oscar Pistorius, and the swimsuits from Speedo Ltd, and the other on the socio-cultural meaning of memory enhancement by Lifelog and its limit, are compared in terms of different "regimes", which consists of the domain of defining enhancement, the institutional apparatus, and the underlying value system that affords such enhancement.

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Why is it important?

Although arguments on the body and enhancement technology are in currency in recent years,researchers have drawn diverse cases from different sources without clarifying the theoretical foundation for possible comparison. In this paper, I have tried to formulate such a ground for comparison in the form of proposing the concept of regime where such enhancement is both defined and executed in socio-technical manner. In addition, I have also shown that in each regime, there are different ways of defining the proper body-technology relations, and that in some cases oft-criticized simplistic model of body (model 1 in this paper) may fit better with the very regime that we focus on, such as that of international sports.   The point of this paper is that the triangular relation among the body, technology and enhancement cannot be clearly understood with simply juxtaposing all these elements, but should be discussed in more systematic manner.This also require a sort of self-reflexive analysis on the reason why we problematize this and that of enhancement while let go others just like our attention to memory but not to forgetting.


This paper is intended to be a step towards developing the concept of regime, not only in relation to the issue of enhancement, but also to the general issue of socio-technical entities beyond the concept like infrastructure that are in vogue in recent years. This concern is related to another paper of mine, Value Oscillation in Knowledge Infrastructure, where one of the missed elements of such currency of discussion, namely the elements that are controlled by such infrastructural entities, are discussed.

Professor Masato Fukushima
the University of Tokyo

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Blade Runner and Memory Devices: Reconsidering the Interrelations between the Body, Technology, and Enhancement, East Asian Science Technology and Society An International Journal, September 2015, Duke University Press,
DOI: 10.1215/18752160-3326527.
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