‘Everyday Cyborgs 2.0: Law’s Boundary-work and Alternative Legal Futures’ is a five year cross-disciplinary project funded by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award.

Everyday cyborgs are all around us. They are persons with attached and implanted medical devices; e.g., artificial joint replacements, pacemakers, total artificial hearts, and limb prostheses. Everyday cyborgs are integrated persons – the literal integration of the biological person with the technological. Increasingly, the technologies involved are integrated goods; i.e., devices which not only have a physical existence, but which are also capable of running software and of collecting, analysing, and transmitting data. Because the law takes a bounded approach to persons and objects, this conjunction of humans and technology generates unexpected practical, conceptual, and normative problems.

This Investigator Award aims to tackle these by challenging law’s boundary-work and radically (re)imagining its approach to the assemblage of integrated persons and integrated goods. It will investigate where and why (problematic) boundaries and dichotomies occur (e.g. between person and things), examine what the pitfalls and opportunities are when these are transgressed and dissolved, and go beyond the bounded selves conception of persons to develop a novel account of the everyday cyborg in law.

This account will be empirically-informed and practically useful, and have solid conceptual and philosophical underpinnings. To these ends, the research will adopt an iterative and flexible cross-disciplinary approach, consisting of complementary conceptual, empirical, and normative analyses.

Three main research questions (RQs) will guide the project:

  • What does the (existence of the) everyday cyborg tell us about the limits and opportunities (conceptual, normative, and practical) of law, regulation, and policy with respect to attached and implanted medical devices?
  • What insights are revealed when traditional legal, ethical, and conceptual boundaries (e.g. subject-object) are dissolved and reconceptualised in novel ways; e.g. around notions of hybridity or the unbounded self?
  • What are the normative implications and alternative legal futures (including for practice and policy) which flow from such a (re)imagining?

Progress reports for the project are available on the reports page which can be accessed here or by clicking on the Output and Events tab at the top of the site.