Everyday cyborgs 2.0: law’s boundary work and alternative legal futures


  • Prof Muireann Quigley

    University of Birmingham

Project summary

Everyday cyborgs are people with attached and implanted medical devices, such as joint replacements, pacemakers and limb prostheses. Increasingly, these devices are smart devices that run software and have WiFi capability and they collect, analyse and transmit data. However, their integration with people creates difficulties for the law. We do not know whether internal medical devices which keep people alive should be viewed as part of the person, mere objects or something else. It is also unclear whether damage to neuro-prostheses should be considered personal injury or damage to property. We need to question who should control or own the software in implanted medical devices, and how the law should deal with risks surrounding unauthorised third-party access and hacking.

Building on preliminary research, I shall answer such questions. I will use written documents, interviews and focus groups to better understand the challenges and test a series of imagined legal futures to assess what is practically possible.

My research will result in suggested solutions to the problems surrounding the law and everyday cyborgs.