Room 42 is where practitioners and academics meet to share knowledge about breaking research. In this episode, Krista Kennedy and Noah Wilson, Syracuse University, discuss the complexities of algorithmic ecologies in medical wearables and navigating data surveillance disclosure in patient education materials of compulsory medical wearables.

Season 1, Episode 21 | 42 min

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In this episode of Room 42, we discuss the Disability, Data, and Surveillance Project, a joint project of researchers at Syracuse University and Loyola University Chicago, and the results of our ongoing study of algorithmic data collection in compulsory medical wearables.

Device manufacturers and other high-tech companies increasingly incorporate algorithmic data surveillance in next-gen medical wearables. These devices, including smart hearing aids, leverage patient data created through human-computer interaction to not only power devices but also increase corporate profit.

Although US and EU data protection laws establish privacy requirements for personal information and use, these companies continue to legally rely on patients’ personal information with little notice or education, significantly curtailing the agency of wearers. Join us to learn more about the complexities of algorithmic ecologies in medical wearables and navigating data surveillance disclosure in patient education materials.

Krista Kennedy is fascinated by the ways that humans work closely with technologies and the rhetorical implications of policies and laws that shape that work. Her experience as a deaf academic informs her current project, which examines intersections of deafness, artificial intelligence, passing, and ethics of medical data collection. She is the author of Textual Curation: Authorship, Agency, and Technology in the Chambers’ Cyclopaedia and Wikipedia as well as more than 25 essays. Kennedy is Associate Professor of Writing & Rhetoric at Syracuse University, PI of the Disability, Data, and Surveillance Project, affiliated with SU’s Autonomous Systems Policy Institute, and, for the 2020-21 year, NEH Visiting Professor of Writing & Rhetoric at Colgate University. She teaches courses on information design, cultural history of robotics, rhetorics of technology, and professional and technical writing.

Noah Wilson is curious about the ways technologies shape our rhetorical actions, particularly how we make connections with other people. He is currently a PhD candidate in Syracuse University’s Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program and a Visiting Instructor of Writing & Rhetoric at Colgate University where he teaches first year writing, rhetorical history and theory, and surveillance rhetorics. His dissertation addresses recent trends in social media content recommendation algorithms that have led to increased political polarization in the United States and the proliferation of radicalizing conspiracy theories such as Qanon and Pizzagate.

Hosts & Guests

Krista Kennedy

Noah Wilson

Janice Summers

Liz Fraley


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Noah's email:

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Read the paper: "Balancing the Halo: Data Surveillance Disclosure and Algorithmic Opacity in Smart Hearing Aids" Rhetoric of Health & Medicine. Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 33–74. DOI: 10.5744/rhm.2021.1003

Filed under: Room 42

Key concepts: regulated industries, research

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