Upgraded to Obsolescence: Age Intervention in the Era of Biohacking

Keywords: biohacking, anti-aging, language, the body


Popularized by DIY scientists and quantified-selfers, the language of “biohacking” has become increasingly prevalent in anti-aging discourse. Presented with speculative futures of superhuman health and longevity, consumers and patients are invited to “hack” the aging process, reducing age to one of the many programs, or rather “bugs” that can be re-written, removed, and rendered obsolete. Drawing on recent examples from popular media and anti-aging promotional materials, I explore how the language of biohacking signals an orientation to the body that denies the acceptability of a body that is anything but optimal. In the endless strive towards the latest and greatest, the language of biohacking renders the old body obsolete, standing as nothing more than a relic of an outdated operating system.

Author Biography

Kirsten L. Ellison, Trent University

Kirsten Ellison is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Trent University, funded by the SSHRC Insight Grant, Digital Culture & Quantified Aging. Her research examines the intersections of aging, science and technology in popular culture, with a focus on visual and linguistic representations of the body.

08 Jan 2020
Critical Engagements