From Cyborgs to Quantified Selves: Augmenting the Right to Privacy with User-Centric Data & Personal AI

43 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2021

See all articles by Mark Fenwick

Mark Fenwick

Kyushu University - Graduate School of Law

Paulius Jurcys

Vilnius University; Prifina

Date Written: September 26, 2021


Transhuman enhancements – technologies that boost human capabilities – are everywhere: bodily implants, wearables, portable devices, and smart devices embedded in everyday spaces. An important feature of these technologies is their ability to generate and utilize deliver data on the user’s side and give ‘back’ the value to that user in the form of actionable insights that influence future choices. Increasingly, our choices are made at the shifting interface between freedom and data, and these enhancements are transforming everyone into human-digital cyborgs or quantified selves. Actionable insights promise multiple benefits for diverse stakeholders, most obviously greater self-understanding, and better decision-making for end-users. Nevertheless, concerns remain. These technologies contribute to the emergence of new forms of post-Foucauldian surveillance that raise difficult questions about the meaning, limits, and even possibility of privacy. As personal choice becomes dependent on data, traditional legal conceptions of privacy that presuppose an independent and settled sphere of private life over which an autonomous ‘person’ enjoys dominion become strained. New conceptions are emerging where: (a) privacy and personal AI are embedded ‘in’ technology, (b) where data collection and data processing take place at the ‘edge’ (i.e., on individual user’s personal devices or personal data clouds), and (c) where data processing results are communicated in more user-friendly ways. These new transformations are informed by human-centric design, and we are experiencing the augmentation of a grand narrative of the protection of the privacy rights of persons with a more situational and process-oriented conception of privacy by design. The paper describes this emerging landscape and raises the question of whether these new approaches to privacy are adequate to the dynamic realities of the information ecosystem of today.

Keywords: Cyborgs, Quantified Self, Personalized insights, Privacy, Surveillance, Transhumanism, User-Held Data, Data Ownership, Wearables, Personal AI, Privacy-by-Design

JEL Classification: K0, K1, K10, K19, K20, K21, K23, K29

Suggested Citation

Fenwick, Mark and Jurcys, Paulius, From Cyborgs to Quantified Selves: Augmenting the Right to Privacy with User-Centric Data & Personal AI (September 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Fenwick

Kyushu University - Graduate School of Law ( email )

744 Motooka, Nishi-ku,
Fukuoka, Fukuoka 819-0395

Paulius Jurcys (Contact Author)

Vilnius University ( email )

Sauletekio ave. 11, Vilnius

Prifina ( email )

1 Market Street
San Francisco, CA California 94105
United States

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