terminal opening… cd /usr/adwyer/return_to_earth_expedition … … Working

Fossil ID: XZY765891H …image.open(‘the_pacemaker.jpg’)…


Notes: Fossil in deteriorated state. Found in clay soil. Image taken before disturbance caused by attempts to examine components inside titanium skin. image.close(‘the_pacemaker.jpg’)… text.open(‘information_location.txt’)… 

Found at a burial site on a large island northwest of the continent known as Europe. Surrounded by a large urban settlement that is thought to have been a dominant Earth metropolis at the start of 21stCentury, known in most common local languages as London, Londyn, لندن (Office for National Statistics, 2013). text.close(‘information_location.txt’)… text.open(‘information_context.txt’)… 

The fossil was found in a human skeleton and is one of the few specimens ever found in the region. From what we can deduce from etchings on its titanium skin, we believe this singular cyber-physical assemblage is called a "pacemaker" and that it belongs to a group of technologies known as Implantable Electronic Medical Devices (IEMDs). These devices point towards an important human species transition on Earth during the Anthropocene, with the rapid adoption of a range of IEMDs as part of a drive towards human enhancement. We speculate these enhancements would have been controversial at that time, bringing into question what historians tell us were established boundaries between public and private spaces and between natural (human bodies) and unnatural (cybernetic devices) entities. 

Preliminary analysis suggests this object was buried with the human c.2015AD [open "information_time.txt" for more information on the civilization’s recording of the passage of time]. A detailed reverse engineering of the object leads us to conclude this was a medical device designed for pacing the heart organ in order to sustain the cardiovascular system. The "pacemaker" provided small electrical pulses through leads that have a depolarizing effect on myocardial cells during cardiac arrhythmia (Timperley, Leeson, Mitchell and Betts, 2008). Within the titanium skin, there is a "hybrid" board (Kenny, 2015: 90), with an integrated circuit, telemetry coil, the reed switch, capacitor(s), resistors and a sensor. The device therefore represents an assemblage of materials, knowledges (coded through the electrical energy transitions on the board) and a human body brought together as a cyber-physical system. The "pacemaker" was a complex technology and building such a device suggests a society with extensive medical knowledge.text.close(‘information_context.txt’)… text.open(‘information_physically-cyber.txt’)… 

As this material was found in clay soils, certain components were extremely degraded, especially the nickel alloy leads, but enough material remains "saved" in the soil to detect their existence. The components sealed in the titanium skin have been somewhat protected from contact with other materials and have retained some integrity, protecting the data they contain. However, attempts to "read" the code have been fraught with difficulty. Like all electronic data, the code has decayed considerably over time. We attempted to use the Digital Vellum archive but no matches were found—suggesting this was a proprietary code not uploaded onto the archive [more information available at "information_dig_vel.txt" (Ghosh, 2015)]. Archaeologists had to turn to other systems from the early 21st century in order to understand the language and analyze the code.  text.close(‘information_physically-cyber.txt’)… text.open(‘information_pacemaker_security.txt’)…


The pacemaker is very much a product of its time—the Anthropocene—making it difficult to fully comprehend its functioning, meaning and purpose. As Kitchin and Dodge (2011) note in their work on "Code/Space," code became a major compositional aspect of many 21st century spaces and relationships. Put bluntly, if the device failed, the heart failed and so did the human being sustained by it. Such interdependencies are a defining characteristic of the Anthropocene. We suggest that this device is important in what it can teach us about human vulnerabilities during this period. 

Questions are still spiralling in archaeologists’ minds around the concept of security and its counterpart, cyber security. While this device seemingly served a medical function, it also opened the body it inhabited up to "passive" attacks through the circulation of malware and viruses, and "active" attacks by human actants (known, historians tell us, as hackers), who formed part of a broader network of "hacktivism" ("breaking" into computer systems). This makes this object of particular interest to historians of cybersecurity. Etymological evidence suggests similarities existed between cyber security and medicine, seen in the use of terms such as a "virus." Viruses "infected" both computer systems and lively tissue. These synergies are clearest in the verb "to save." This human society appeared to save a lot. They saved lives. They saved data. "Save" is etymologically closely related to "safety," and perhaps represents confused human attempts to conserve the distinctiveness of their species (as well as individual lives) in the face of an inescapable interdependency on things other-than-human. We might learn a lot about these ancient humans if we could understand what exactly it was they sought to save and and what they were seeking safety and security from. text.close(‘information_pacemaker_security.txt’)… launch(‘socialities_of_security.exe’)…Are you sure you wish to launch (Y/N)?…YLaunching…public_private_binary … Completesocial_inequalities… Completebiologies_and_normalisation… Complete … 100% CompleteAvailable in new location…/usr/adwyer/return_to_earth_expedition/discuss/socialities_of_security.txt text.open(‘socialities_of_security.txt’) Error 5015Prognosis available: 03/09/2015.Approximate location: N 50°44’11.51″ W 3°32’9.32″. –logoff (Y/N)…Y Loading end sequence… text.open(‘bibliography.txt’) 


Ghosh P (2015) Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age.’
Kenny T (2015) The Nuts and Bolts of Implantable Device Therapy: Pacemakers. Chichester: Wiley.
Kitchin R and Dodge M (2011) Code/space: Software and everyday life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lorimer J (2012) Multinatural geographies for the Anthropocene. Progress in Human Geography 36(5): 593–612.
Office for National Statistics (2013) 2011 Census: Quick Statistics for England and Wales.
Timperley J, Leeson P, Mitchell ARJ, and Betts T (2008) Pacemakers and ICDs. Oxford specialist handbooks in cardiology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.