[Flash Forward] BODIES: InkRx


22/05/2019 by Rose Eveleth

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=71383223
Episode: https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.megaphone.fm/FLASH1669801075.mp3?updated=1558479916

Today we travel to a future where we can tattoo sensors right onto our skin. What happens when you can get a live readout of everything from glucose to hormones to hydration levels built into a tattoo? What kind of privacy can you expect when your medical data is literally written on your skin? And what does any of this have to do with Inspector Gadget and René Descartes?

→ → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←

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Ali K. Yetisen— researcher at Imperial College London
Ace Ratcliffe — disability activist, writer, co-founder of Harper’s Promise
Eler de Grey — interdisciplinary artist & writer
Quinn Grundy — researcher at the University of Toronto

Maria — Cara Rose de Fabio
Gaby — Eler de Grey
Marquis — Rotimi Agbabiaka (check out his new solo show called Manifesto on June 21 at the African American Arts and Culture Complex as part of the National Queer Arts Festival.)
John — Keith Houston (also check out his karaoke nights in San Francisco)

Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. Special thanks to Adria Otte and Molly Monihan at the Women’s Audio Mission, where all the intro scenes were recorded this season.

Get in touch: Twitter // Facebook // Reddit // info@flashforwardpod.com

Support the show: Patreon // Donorbox

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Listen Date: 2019-06-15


  • The African Clawed Frog story is fantastic and would make a great quiz question.
  • This episode left me feeling a bit smug about how I track my biomarkers (if at all) in a Google Sheet, or in Google Calendar, instead of a dedicated, and probably leaking app. But maybe that smugness is unjustified and Google is analysing and redistributing that data heavily. Let’s see. But I still feel that avoiding dedicated health apps in favour of homebrewed trackers and calendar events leads to one less vector of data leakage.
  • I love controllable / programmable LED lights, but the thought of programmable tattoos on my skin squicks me out, even though it’s objectively cool.
  • I always used to justify not getting a tattoo by saying that Indian laws were crazy, and could criminalise anything at any point, so why make it easier for the police to identify me. This episode revealed new levels of machine identification and surveillance using tattoos that made me weep.
  • I very much appreciated that this episode went in a disability rights direction more than anything else.
  • I wonder if chronic disease rights activists try to differentiate themselves from disability rights activists.


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