• Yang, Yeesheen


In the information age, we are offered a myriad of options through which to fulfill the exhortation to “know thyself.” Tech-based initiatives—including Google Calico, which seeks to address the problems of aging and death, and Quantified Self, which looks to prompt self-improvement— offer that knowledge in the form of data. This essay explores the notion of the algorithmic body—a body built from data—and its roots in a history of projects that attempt to escape some of the fundamental aspects of the human condition, including mortality.



Saving the Quantified Self: How we come to know ourselves now

  1. The Quantified Self website can be found here: http://quanti
  2. 2  Self trackers have their own history and legacy. Many note that before smartphones, there were pens and paper, which Benja- min Franklin used in his obsessive daily self-chronicling.

3 Paul LaFontaine’s writing on his self-study can be found here: in-upset-recovery/.

4 Deborah Lupton, ‘‘Beyond the Quantified Self: the Reflexive Self-Monitoring Self,’’ This Sociological Life, http://simply self-the-reflexive-monitoring-self/.

5 Larry Page, ‘‘Calico Announcement,’’ 18 September 2013, ment.html.

6 Gregory Ferenstein and Rip Empson, ‘‘WTF is Calico, and Why Does Google Think Its Mysterious New Company Can Defy Aging?’’ TechCrunch, 19 September 2013, http://techcrunch. com/2013/09/19/wtf-is-calico-and-why-does-google-think-its- mysterious-new-company-can-defy-aging/.

7 Alistair Barr, ‘‘Google’s New Moonshot Project,’’ The Wall Street Journal, 27 July 2014.

8 Dominic Basuto, ‘‘Google Wants to Make You Immortal and ObamaCare Will Pay For It,’’ Washington Post, 8 October 2013.

9 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 2.

10 Ibid., 3.

11 PEW Research, ‘‘Living to 120 and Beyond: Americans’ Views on Aging, Medical Advances, and Radical Life Extension,’’ 6 August 2013.

The SELF Institute