Socio-Cultural Anthropology of Pervasive Computing

Dr. Daniel Cerqui-Ducret is a social and cultural anthropologist who works on neat project:

My researches focus on the development of the new information technologies and the 'information society' these technologies are supposed to create. In such a society computers are more and more integrated everywhere in our environment ('pervasive computing'). Furthermore, chips and human bodies are merging and such a symbiosis has consequences for the future of humankind. I am especially interested in how engineers who work on these new technologies see this future: what is (descriptive aspect) and what should be (normative aspect) a human being according to them?

Furthermore, I am interested in the ethical and social aspects of the convergent robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology, as all of them are merging to modify humankind.

Why do I blog this? Since she works close to our school (EPFL is close to the University of Lausanne) I'd love to hear her perspective on pervasive computing.

Besides, her current project is pretty interesting:

currently carrying out a two years research (since June 2004) in the Department of Cybernetics of the University of Reading, where Kevin Warwick was , in 2002, the first human with a chip implanted in his body and directly linked to his nervous system.

On the one hand, I am doing an ethnographical job in this Department, which means following Kevin in his activites, trying to understand which are his main values and how a cyborg culture can be promoted.

On the other hand, as I think that social scientists must be engaged, I collaborate with Kevin in order to make him aware of he main social. ethical, philosophical and anthropological issues related to his work.

Moreover, we are using our original collaboration to produce common papers. We hope that it will make social scientists aware of how far Kevin is going in his researches, and computer scientists aware of the fundamental issues raised by their practices , even if they are convinced that technology is just a neutral tool.