Bioethics Blogs

Quantified Self: Your Life in Data

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

How much did you sleep last night? How many calories did you burn? How many steps did you walk? What was your average resting heart rate? How many calories did you consume? What was your blood oxygen level? If you were a part of the “Quantified Self” movement, then you would have all of these numbers logged on your wearable, your mobile, your phone, your tablet, and your laptop.

The Quantified Self movement is an attempt to use technology to keep track of all physiological aspects of a person’s life. The goal is to quantify yourself by taking biometric measurements so that you can track your health. Similar to a company trying to improve its performance, you can use your metrics to try to improve your numbers, which are used as a stand in for your health and fitness.

The term comes from 2007 when two Wired editors, Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf, were thinking about what it meant that there were new devices that allowed a person to track their lives. Each person becomes an experiment seeing how habits, actions, activities, and health choices affect the numbers. There are now QS conference, meet up groups, blogs, articles, devices, and programs.

But that’s not all, more than just trying to improve your numbers, you can share your data through websites that can help you keep track of those numbers, share them with your doctor, or even make them available for researchers. You can track your life and contribute to improving other people’s health at the same time.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.