This Article introduces the ongoing progression of the Internet of Things (IoT) into the Internet of Bodies (IoB)—a network of human bodies whose integrity and functionality rely at least in part on the Internet and related technologies, such as artificial intelligence. IoB devices will evidence the same categories of legacy security flaws that have plagued IoT devices. However, unlike most IoT, IoB technologies will directly, physically harm human bodies—a set of harms courts, legislators, and regulators will deem worthy of legal redress. As such, IoB will herald the arrival of (some forms of) corporate software liability and a new legal and policy battle over the integrity of the human body and mind. Framing this integrity battle in light of current regulatory approaches, this Article offers a set of specific innovation-sensitive proposals to bolster corporate conduct safeguards through regulatory agency action, contract, tort, intellectual property, and secured transactions and bankruptcy.
Yet, the challenges of IoB are not purely legal in nature. The social integration of IoB will also not be seamless. As bits and bodies meld and as human flesh becomes permanently entwined with hardware, software, and algorithms, IoB will test our norms and values as a society. In particular, it will challenge notions of human autonomy and self-governance. Legal scholars have traditionally considered Kantian autonomy as the paradigmatic lens for legal determinations impacting the human body. However, IoB threatens to undermine a fundamental precondition of Kantian autonomy—Kantian heautonomy. Damaged heautonomy renders both Kantian autonomy and deliberative democracy potentially compromised. As such, this Article argues that safeguarding heautonomy should constitute the animating legal principle for governance of IoB bodies. The Article concludes by introducing the companion essay to this Article, The Internet of Latour’s Things. This companion essay inspired by the work of Bruno Latour offers a sliding scale of “technohumanity” as a framework for the legal and policy discussion of what it means to be “human” in an age where bodies are the “things” connected to the Internet.
Repository CitationAndrea M. Matwyshyn, The Internet of Bodies, 61 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 77 (2019), https://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmlr/vol61/iss1/3
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