We need to speed up our little awakening because we’re still light-years behind the reality.
This dwarfs Afghanistan and Covid is but a chapter in its playbook.
This connects all the trigger-words: 5G, Covid, Vaccines, Graphene, The Great Reset, Blockchain, The Fourth Industrial Revolution and beyond.
What Is the Internet of Bodies?
Source: The Rand Corporation (Download PDF)
A wide variety of internet-connected “smart”
devices now promise consumers and
businesses improved performance, convenience, efficiency, and fun. Within this
broader Internet of Things (IoT) lies a growing
industry of devices that monitor the human body,
collect health and other personal information, and
transmit that data over the internet. We refer to these
emerging technologies and the data they collect as
the Internet of Bodies (IoB) (see, for example, Neal,
2014; Lee, 2018), a term first applied to law and policy
in 2016 by law and engineering professor Andrea M.
Matwyshyn (Atlantic Council, 2017; Matwyshyn,
2016; Matwyshyn, 2018; Matawyshyn, 2019).
IoB devices come in many forms. Some are
already in wide use, such as wristwatch fitness
monitors or pacemakers that transmit data about
a patient’s heart directly to a cardiologist. Other
products that are under development or newly on the
market may be less familiar, such as ingestible products that collect and send information on a person’s
gut, microchip implants, brain stimulation devices,
and internet-connected toilets.
These devices have intimate access to the body
and collect vast quantities of personal biometric data.
IoB device makers promise to deliver substantial
health and other benefits but also pose serious risks,
including risks of hacking, privacy infringements,
or malfunction. Some devices, such as a reliable
artificial pancreas for diabetics, could revolutionize
the treatment of disease, while others could merely
inflate health-care costs with little positive effect on
outcomes. Access to huge torrents of live-streaming
biometric data might trigger breakthroughs in medical knowledge or behavioral understanding. It might increase health outcome disparities, where only
people with financial means have access to any of
these benefits. Or it might enable a surveillance state
of unprecedented intrusion and consequence.
There is no universally accepted definition of
For the purposes of this report, we refer to
the IoB, or the IoB ecosystem, as IoB devices (defined
next, with further explanation in the passages that
follow) together with the software they contain and
the data they collect.
An IoB device is defined as a device that
• contains software or computing capabilities
• can communicate with an internet-connected
device or network
and satisfies one or both of the following:
• collects person-generated health or biometric
• can alter the human body’s function.
The software or computing capabilities in an
IoB device may be as simple as a few lines of code
used to configure a radio frequency identification (RFID) microchip implant, or as complex as a computer that processes artificial intelligence (AI)
and machine learning algorithms. A connection to
the internet through cellular or Wi-Fi networks is
required but need not be a direct connection. For
example, a device may be connected via Bluetooth to
a smartphone or USB device that communicates with
an internet-connected computer. Person-generated
health data (PGHD) refers to health, clinical, or
wellness data collected by technologies to be recorded
or analyzed by the user or another person. Biometric
or behavioral data refers to measurements of unique
physical or behavioral properties about a person.
Finally, an alteration to the body’s function refers
to an augmentation or modification of how the
user’s body performs, such as a change in cognitive
enhancement and memory improvement provided
by a brain-computer interface, or the ability to record
whatever the user sees through an intraocular lens
with a camera.
IoB devices generally, but not always, require a
physical connection to the body (e.g., they are worn,
ingested, implanted, or otherwise attached to or
embedded in the body, temporarily or permanently).
Many IoB devices are medical devices regulated by
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).3
Figure 1 depicts examples of technologies in the IoB
ecosystem that are either already available on the U.S.
market or are under development.
Devices that are not connected to the internet,
such as ordinary heart monitors or medical ID bracelets, are not included in the definition of IoB. Nor are implanted magnets (a niche consumer product used
by those in the so-called bodyhacker community
described in the next section) that are not connected
to smartphone applications (apps), because although
they change the body’s functionality by allowing the
user to sense electromagnetic vibrations, the devices
do not contain software. Trends in IoB technologies
and additional examples are further discussed in the
Some IoB devices may fall in and out of
our definition at different times. For example, a
Wi-Fi-connected smartphone on its own would
not be part of the IoB; however, once a health app
is installed that requires connection to the body to
track user information, such as heart rate or number
of steps taken, the phone would be considered IoB.
Our definition is meant to capture rapidly evolving
technologies that have the potential to bring about
the various risks and benefits that are discussed in
this report. We focused on analyzing existing and
emerging IoB technologies that appear to have the
potential to improve health and medical outcomes,
efficiency, and human function or performance, but
that could also endanger users’ legal, ethical, and
privacy rights or present personal or national security
For this research, we conducted an extensive
literature review and interviewed security experts,
technology developers, and IoB advocates to understand anticipated risks and benefits. We had valuable discussions with experts at BDYHAX 2019, an
annual convention for bodyhackers, in February
2019, and DEFCON 27, one of the world’s largest
hacker conferences, in August 2019. In this report,
we discuss trends in the technology landscape and
outline the benefits and risks to the user and other
stakeholders. We present the current state of governance that applies to IoB devices and the data they
collect and conclude by offering recommendations
for improved regulation to best balance those risks
Transhumanism, Bodyhacking, Biohacking,
The IoB is related to several movements outside of formal health care focused on integrating human bodies
with technology. Next, we summarize some of these concepts,
though there is much overlap and interchangeability among them.
Transhumanism is a worldview and political movement advocating for the transcendence of humanity beyond current human capabilities.
Transhumanists want to use technology, such as
artificial organs and other techniques, to halt aging
and achieve “radical life extension” (Vita-Moore,
2018). Transhumanists may also seek to resist disease,
enhance their intelligence, or thwart fatigue through
diet, exercise, supplements, relaxation techniques, or
nootropics (substances that may improve cognitive
Bodyhackers, biohackers, and cyborgs, who
enjoy experimenting with body enhancement, often
refer to themselves as grinders. They may or may not
identify as transhumanists. These terms are often
interchanged in common usage, but some do distinguish between them (Trammell, 2015). Bodyhacking
generally refers to modifying the body to enhance
one’s physical or cognitive abilities. Some bodyhacking is purely aesthetic. Hackers have implanted horns
in their heads and LED lights under their skin. Other
hacks, such as implanting RFID microchips in one’s
hand, are meant to enhance function, allowing users
to unlock doors, ride public transportation, store
emergency contact information, or make purchases
with the sweep of an arm (Baenen, 2017; Savage,
2018). One bodyhacker removed the RFID microchip from her car’s key fob and had it implanted
in her arm (Linder, 2019). A few bodyhackers have
implanted a device that is a combined wireless router
and hard drive that can be used as a node in a wireless mesh network (Oberhaus, 2019). Some bodyhacking is medical in nature, including 3D-printed
prosthetics and do-it-yourself artificial pancreases.
Still others use the term for any method of improving
health, including bodybuilding, diet, or exercise.
Biohacking generally denotes techniques that
modify the biological systems of humans or other
living organisms. This ranges from bodybuilding
and nootropics to developing cures for diseases via
self-experimentation to human genetic manipulation
through CRISPR-Cas9 techniques (Samuel, 2019;
Cyborgs, or cybernetic organisms, are people
who have used machines to enhance intelligence or
the senses. Neil Harbisson, a colorblind man who can
“hear” color through an antenna implanted in his
head that plays a tune for different colors or wavelengths of light, is acknowledged as the first person to
be legally recognized by a government as a cyborg, by
being allowed to have his passport picture include his
implant (Donahue, 2017).
Because IoB is a wide-ranging field that
intersects with do-it-yourself body modification,
consumer products, and medical care, understanding
its benefits and risks is critical.
The Internet of Bodies is here. This is how it could change our lives
04 Jun 2020, Xiao Liu Fellow at the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum
- We’re entering the era of the “Internet of Bodies”: collecting our physical data via a range of devices that can be implanted, swallowed or worn.
- The result is a huge amount of health-related data that could improve human wellbeing around the world, and prove crucial in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
- But a number of risks and challenges must be addressed to realize the potential of this technology, from privacy issues to practical hurdles.
In the special wards of Shanghai’s Public Health Clinical Center, nurses use smart thermometers to check the temperatures of COVID-19 patients. Each person’s temperature is recorded with a sensor, reducing the risk of infection through contact, and the data is sent to an observation dashboard. An abnormal result triggers an alert to medical staff, who can then intervene promptly. The gathered data also allows medics to analyse trends over time.
The smart thermometers are designed by VivaLNK, a Silicon-Valley based startup, and are a powerful example of the many digital products and services that are revolutionizing healthcare. After the Internet of Things, which transformed the way we live, travel and work by connecting everyday objects to the Internet, it’s now time for the Internet of Bodies. This means collecting our physical data via devices that can be implanted, swallowed or simply worn, generating huge amounts of health-related information.
Some of these solutions, such as fitness trackers, are an extension of the Internet of Things. But because the Internet of Bodies centres on the human body and health, it also raises its own specific set of opportunities and challenges, from privacy issues to legal and ethical questions.
Connecting our bodies
As futuristic as the Internet of Bodies may seem, many people are already connected to it through wearable devices. The smartwatch segment alone has grown into a $13 billion market by 2018, and is projected to increase another 32% to $18 billion by 2021. Smart toothbrushes and even hairbrushes can also let people track patterns in their personal care and behaviour.
For health professionals, the Internet of Bodies opens the gate to a new era of effective monitoring and treatment.
In 2017, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved the first use of digital pills in the United States. Digital pills contain tiny, ingestible sensors, as well as medicine. Once swallowed, the sensor is activated in the patient’s stomach and transmits data to their smartphone or other devices.
In 2018, Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare provider in California, started a virtual rehab program for patients recovering from heart attacks. The patients shared their data with their care providers through a smartwatch, allowing for better monitoring and a closer, more continuous relationship between patient and doctor. Thanks to this innovation, the completion rate of the rehab program rose from less than 50% to 87%, accompanied by a fall in the readmission rate and programme cost.
The deluge of data collected through such technologies is advancing our understanding of how human behaviour, lifestyle and environmental conditions affect our health. It has also expanded the notion of healthcare beyond the hospital or surgery and into everyday life. This could prove crucial in fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Keeping track of symptoms could help us stop the spread of infection, and quickly detect new cases. Researchers are investigating whether data gathered from smartwatches and similar devices can be used as viral infection alerts by tracking the user’s heart rate and breathing.
At the same time, this complex and evolving technology raises new regulatory challenges.
What counts as health information?
In most countries, strict regulations exist around personal health information such as medical records and blood or tissue samples. However, these conventional regulations often fail to cover the new kind of health data generated through the Internet of Bodies, and the entities gathering and processing this data.
In the United States, the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which is the major law for health data regulation, applies only to medical providers, health insurers, and their business associations. Its definition of “personal health information” covers only the data held by these entities. This definition is turning out to be inadequate for the era of the Internet of Bodies. Tech companies are now also offering health-related products and services, and gathering data. Margaret Riley, a professor of health law at the University of Virginia, pointed out to me in an interview that HIPPA does not cover the masses of data from consumer wearables, for example.
Another problem is that the current regulations only look at whether the data is sensitive in itself, not whether it can be used to generate sensitive information. For example, the result of a blood test in a hospital will generally be classified as sensitive data, because it reveals private information about your personal health. But today, all sorts of seemingly non-sensitive data can also be used to draw inferences about your health, through data analytics. Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Law school, told me in an interview that even data that is not about health at all, such as grocery shopping lists, can be used for such inferences. As a result, conventional regulations may fail to cover data that is sensitive and private, simply because it did not look sensitive before it was processed.
Identifying and protecting sensitive data matters, because it can directly affect how we are treated by institutions and other people. With big data analytics, countless day-to-day actions and decisions can ultimately feed into our health profile, which may be created and maintained not just by traditional healthcare providers, but also by tech companies or other entities. Without appropriate laws and regulations, it could also be sold. At the same time, data from the Internet of Bodies can be used to make predictions and inferences that could affect a person’s or group’s access to resources such as healthcare, insurance and employment.
James Dempsey, director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, told me in an interview that this could lead to unfair treatment. He warned of potential discrimination and bias when such data is used for decisions in insurance and employment. The affected people may not even be aware of this.
One solution would be to update the regulations. Sandra Wachter and Brent Mittelstadt, two scholars at the Oxford Internet Institute, suggest that data protection law should focus more on how and why data is processed, and not just on its raw state. They argue for a so-called “right to reasonable inferences”, meaning the right to have your data used only for reasonable, socially acceptable inferences. This would involve setting standards on whether and when inferring certain information from a person’s data, including the state of their present or future health, is socially acceptable or overly invasive.
Apart from the concerns over privacy and sensitivity, there are also a number of practical problems in dealing with the sheer volume of data generated by the Internet of Bodies. The lack of standards around security and data processing makes it difficult to combine data from diverse sources, and use it to advance research. Different countries and institutions are trying to jointly overcome this problem. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and its Standards Association have been working with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health, as well as universities and businesses among other stakeholders since 2016, to address the security and interoperability issue of connected health.
As the Internet of Bodies spreads into every aspect of our existence, we are facing a range of new challenges. But we also have an unprecedented chance to improve our health and well-being, and save countless lives. During the COVID-19 crisis, using this opportunity and finding solutions to the challenges is a more urgent task than ever. This relies on government agencies and legislative bodies working with the private sector and civil society to create a robust governance framework, and to include inferences in the realm of data protection. Devising technological and regulatory standards for interoperability and security would also be crucial to unleashing the power of the newly available data. The key is to collaborate across borders and sectors to fully realize the enormous benefits of this rapidly advancing technology.
Now more from the Rand Corporation
Governance of IoB devices is managed through a patchwork of state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and consumer advocacy groups
- The primary entities responsible for governance of IoB devices are the FDA and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Although the FDA is making strides in cybersecurity of medical devices, many IoB devices, especially those available for consumer use, do not fall under FDA jurisdiction.
- Federal and state officials have begun to address cybersecurity risks associated with IoB that are beyond FDA oversight, but there are few laws that mandate cybersecurity best practices.
As with IoB devices, there is no single entity that provides oversight to IoB data
- Protection of medical information is regulated at the federal level, in part, by HIPAA.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) helps ensure data security and consumer privacy through legal actions brought by the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
- Data brokers are largely unregulated, but some legal experts are calling for policies to protect consumers.
- As the United States has no federal data privacy law, states have introduced a patchwork of laws and regulations that apply to residents’ personal data, some of which includes IoB-related information.
- The lack of consistency in IoB laws among states and between the state and federal level potentially enables regulatory gaps and enforcement challenges.
- The U.S. Commerce Department can put foreign IoB companies on its “Entity List,” preventing them from doing business with Americans, if those foreign companies are implicated in human rights violations.
- As 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and satellite internet standards are rolled out, the federal government should be prepared for issues by funding studies and working with experts to develop security regulations.
- It will be important to consider how to incentivize quicker phase-out of the legacy medical devices with poor cybersecurity that are already in wide use.
- IoB developers must be more attentive to cybersecurity by integrating cybersecurity and privacy considerations from the beginning of product development.
- Device makers should test software for vulnerabilities often and devise methods for users to patch software.
- Congress should consider establishing federal data transparency and protection standards for data that are collected from the IoB.
- The FTC could play a larger role to ensure that marketing claims about improved well-being or specific health treatment are backed by appropriate evidence.
Internet of Bodies (IoB): Future of Healthcare & Medical Technology
By Khalid Mustafa
JAMMU and Kashmir is almost always in the news for one reason or another. Apart from the obvious political headlines, J&K was also in the news because of covid-19. As the world struggled with covid-19 pandemic, J&K faced a peculiar situation due to its poor health infrastructure. Nonetheless, all sections of society did a commendable job in keeping covid under control and preventing the loss of life as much as possible. The doctors Association in Kashmir along with the administration did as much as possible through their efforts. For that we are all thankful to them. However, it is about time that we integrate our Healthcare System by upgrading it and introducing to it new technologies from the current world.
We’ve all heard of the Internet of Things, a network of products ranging from refrigerators to cars to industrial control systems that are connected to the internet. Internet of Bodies (IoB) the outcome of the Internet of Things (IoT) is broadly helping the healthcare system and every individual to live life with ease by managing the human body in terms of technology. The Internet of Bodies connects the human body to a network of internet run devices.
The use of IoB can be independent or by the health care heroes (doctors) to monitor, report and enhance the health system of the human body. The internet of Bodies (IoB) are broadly classified into three categories or in some cases we can say three generations – Body Internal, Body External and Body embedded. The Body Internal model of IoB is the category, in which the individual or patient is interacting with the technology environment or we can say internet or our healthcare system by having an installed device inside the human body. Body External model or generation of IoB signifies the model where the device is installed external to the body for certain usage viz. Apple watches and other smart bands from various OEM’s for tracking blood pressure, heart rate etc which can later be used for proper health tracking and monitoring purposes. Last one under this classifications are Body Embedded, in which the devices are embedded under the skin by health care professionals during a number of health situations.
The Internet of Bodies is a small part or even the offspring of the Internet of Things. Much like it, there remains the challenge of data and information breach as we have already witnessed many excessive distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks and other cyber-attacks on IoTs to exploit data and gather information. The effects are even more severe and vulnerable in the case of the Internet of Bodies as the human body is involved in this schema.
The risk of these threats has taken over the discussion about the IOBs. Thus, this has become a great concern in medical technology companies. Most of the existing IoB companies just rely on end-user license agreements and privacy policies to retain rights in software and to create rights to monitor, aggregate and share users’ body data. They just need to properly enhance the security model and implement high security measures to avoid any misfortune. For the same the Government of India is already examining the personal data protection bill 2019.
The Internet has not managed to change our lifestyles in the way the internet of things will!
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
- The author is presently Manager IT & Ops In HK Group
And this is some old DARPA research anticipating the hive mind:
Hierarchical Identify Verify Exploit (HIVE)
Social media, sensor feeds, and scientific studies generate large amounts of valuable data. However, understanding the relationships among this data can be challenging. Graph analytics has emerged as an approach by which analysts can efficiently examine the structure of the large networks produced from these data sources and draw conclusions from the observed patterns. By understanding the complex relationships both within and between data sources, a more complete picture of the analysis problem can be understood. With lessons learned from innovations in the expanding realm of deep neural networks, the Hierarchical Identify Verify Exploit (HIVE) program seeks to advance the arena of graph analytics.
The HIVE program is looking to build a graph analytics processor that can process streaming graphs 1000X faster and at much lower power than current processing technology. If successful, the program will enable graph analytics techniques powerful enough to solve tough challenges in cyber security, infrastructure monitoring and other areas of national interest. Graph analytic processing that currently requires racks of servers could become practical in tactical situations to support front-line decision making. What ’s more, these advanced graph analytics servers could have the power to analyze the billion- and trillion-edge graphs that will be generated by the Internet of Things, ever-expanding social networks, and future sensor networks.
In parallel with the hardware development of a HIVE processor, DARPA is working with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host the HIVE Graph Challenge with the goal of developing a trillion-edge dataset. This freely available dataset will spur innovative software and hardware solutions in the broader graph analysis community that will contribute to the HIVE program.
The overall objective is to accelerate innovation in graph analytics to open new pathways for meeting the challenge of understanding an ever-increasing torrent of data. The HIVE program features two primary challenges:
- The first is a static graph problem focused on sub-graph Isomorphism. This task is to further the ability to search a large graph in order to identify a particular subsection of that graph.
- The second is a dynamic graph problem focused on trying to find optimal clusters of data within the graph.
Both challenges will include a small graph problem in the billions of nodes and a large graph problem in the trillions of nodes.
To be continued?
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