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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The new artificial pancreas system includes a body-attached blood glucose sensor that tracks glucose levels, a worn insulin infusion pump that communicates with the sensor, and features new software that integrates the two systems. The artificial pancreas is purportedly revolutionary because of its closed-loop design, which means that the machine can give insulin without direct patient intervention. It can read a blood sugar and administer insulin based on an algorithm. But, the hardware for the corporate artificial pancreas is expensive and its software code is closed-access. Yet, well-educated, tech-savvy diabetics have been fashioning their own fully automated do-it-yourself (DIY) artificial pancreases for years, relying on small-scale manufacturing, open-source software, and inventive repurposing of corporate hardware. In this chapter, we trace the corporate and DIY artificial pancreases as they grapple with issues of design and accessibility in a content where not everyone can become a diabetic cyborg. The corporate artificial pancreas offers the cyborg low levels of agency and no ownership and control over his or her own data; it also requires access to health insurance in order to procure and use the technology. The DIY artificial pancreas offers patients a more robust of agency but also requires high levels of intellectual capital to hack the devices and make the system work safely. We argue that efforts to increase agency, radically democratize biotechnology, and expand information ownership in the DIY movement are characterized by ideologies and social inequalities that also define corporate pathways.

Keywords: cyborg technologies, sociology, artificial pancreas, diabetes, medical devices, agency, ownership

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