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Can Apple Watch Measure my Soul?

Do you know what your blood pressure is? How about your heart rate? How many hours of sleep do you get each night, and how many miles do you walk every day? All of this information – and much more – is available to us through recently developed wearable monitoring technology.

Millions of people are using tracking technologies like FitBit, Apple Watch, and other wearables to measure many aspects of our lives, and the media is speculating that the popular obsession with self-measurement is only likely to grow in the years to come. Pretty soon, we may be able to get real-time information about all of our bodily functions, including our thoughts and feelings. 

For me, this raises the question: Are human beings more than the sum of our parts? Are we just a collection of electrons firing, hearts beating, muscles spasming? Am I, at the end of the day, just a very complex biological program running to its logical conclusion? When we’ve gathered all the data on the human race – and on each of us individually – will there be any room left for free will? For meaning?

Eventually, will Apple Watch be able to give me a readout on my relationship with God, a temperature check on my soul? Will FitBit be able to provide me with a comprehensive analysis of my closest friendships? At what point do my decisions become irrelevant? When does it just make more sense to follow the data?

It makes me wonder: Is there something that we experience in our lives, our universe, that transcends the superficial metrics of science and reaches into the realm of meaning? What might we miss in the rush to quantify our lives down to the millisecond? What gets lost when human beings are converted into data streams?

The determinism of big data is seductive, but is that really where we want to put our trust? Do we recognize all the moral assumptions that come with our technology? What will it mean for us to reclaim the wonder of our lives, rather than being remade in the image of the machine?

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  • GlenSandberg

    Hello Micah et al !
    In the context of your post about data vs. meaning and free will, I must repeat a comment from another context:



    The “Atheist Atom” is an idealization – an image that’s easy
    to imagine, like the simple-minded belief in GOD as a man in
    the sky who Creates things, easy to imagine because of our
    human experience as creators.


    from “Modern Physics” (1890s-1920s) we know that electrons
    don ‘t orbit around an atomic nucleus like planets around
    the sun; what we know from radioactivity, relativity,
    quantum systems and particle dynamics shows that different
    mathematical representations are appropriate for precise
    calculation of experimental results, each an idealization of
    some aspect of the physical system. And we expect to need
    new idealizations to comprehend new physical experience. We
    can’t know-it-all but what we know is good for what it’s
    good for.


    the Believers recognize that their man-in-the-sky is a
    metaphor for the assumption that if something exists it must
    have been created, hence it must have a purpose. So they
    assume a Supernatural existence, where anything goes – life
    after death, everlasting soul etc. (Obvious from their human
    experience of believing!) And Atheists must believe nothing
    because they don’t believe in believing! But we are doubters
    because we use our own judgement for what’s good
    information, and of course they do too for practical
    purposes. And our conceit is balanced by the humility of
    knowing the basis for our judgements. Theirs is based on the
    certainty of their beliefs!

    End Atheist symbol comment.

    And I’m sending in a separate email message the attached file: WhatIf~T.doc
    that presents more about the knowledge of nature and the nature of knowledge.

    Glen – – 228-697-5195 – –

  • Last week, my family was talking about car mechanics. In an over-simplification, I said all the young mechanics hook up their analyzer to the car and do whatever the readout tells them. The old-school mechanics first listen to the car and drive the car, based just on that they often know what to do.

    When it comes to matters of faith, I want to be old-school.