Key Series: Critical Theory of Information, Communication, Media, Culture and Technology

By Martyn Hudson


The significance of the idea of the Anthropocene epoch is centrally about the understanding of human intervention into and extraction from nature, and one that can be signalled in the geological record. This paper turns away from questions of periodization, acceleration, and rectification in order to understand the role of machine socialities in the emergence of the Anthropocene – those social relations that give birth to, revolve around, or are subsumed by prosthetic, enhancing technologies and machines of intervention and extraction. It looks at the extension of both neobiota and neomachina and the role of knowledge in classical accounts of the relation of humans and machines – specifically in Critical Theory and the grand theorisation of the machine in Marx. It concludes by offering some new directions for theorising machines and sociality.

1. Introduction: Anthropocene/Machine: The social in social machines

Adorno’s Minima Moralia is about the ‘intellectual in emigration’, fragmented by their experience of dislocation and mutilated ‘without exception’ as Adorno says of himself and his other exiles. The reflections of his mutilated, damaged life are themselves mutilated by disconnectedness and incohesion.[1] If this is philosophy from the ‘standpoint of redemption’ it is a curious one, abdicating messianism, turning away from intervention into the vortex of history, expressing futility in the face of machines. Adorno’s Dream Notes also have the same fragmented status but in their case it is a consequence of the magical precipices of his dreamworld, its illogicality and the visitation into his dreams of absent and lost friends and the dead including, of course, Schoenberg.[2] The fragmented, aphoristic notebooks of Adorno are a work of fear. The pages resonate with the brutality of machines and machine systems subjecting living beings to their rule and the ‘implacable, as it were, ahistorical demands of objects’ in which the subject is dissipated, dissolved, submerged.[3] Fascism’s ‘robot-bombs’, like Fascism itself ‘career without a subject. Like it they combine utmost technical perfection with total blindness. And like it they arouse mortal terror and are wholly futile’.[4] The extension of what we might call ‘neomachina’ submerge the biotic species of the earth, specifically its human subjects, extending the rule of the machines through the very fabric of human skin, and the internal world of its being. Sometimes Adorno thought that only art and music could enlighten the world in its own darkness,[5] more often he saw them subjected to the formulaic, mechanical, repetitive beat of the machine.

It is no mystery that it is Schoenberg who appears to him in his dreams. Schoenberg’s compositions were a manifesto of ‘advance’ against reaction, but for Adorno – ‘This is only music; how must a world be made in which even questions of counterpoint bear witness to irreconcilable conflicts?’[6] Not only was the music of the avant-garde enlightening and compelling, it found its force in what Adorno calls determinate negation and the abdication of meaning in the face of the machines. Further, like his own reflections on damaged life, music is full of fractures and fissures which distort and reflect the social totality in its own very interior, at its best abdicating the organisation of machine systems.[7]

Yet, little here gives us a sense of standing in a place where redemption seems possible, meaningful: where philosophical practice can light up our darkness as much as Schoenberg did in the midnight of the century. Except for one remarkable moment in Minima Moralia which is worth quoting at length:

Properly written texts are like spiders’ webs: tight, concentric, transparent, well-spun and firm. They draw into themselves all the creatures of the air. Metaphors flitting hastily through them become their nourishing prey. Subject matter comes winging towards them. The soundness of a conception can be judged by whether it causes one quotation to summon another. Where thought has opened up one cell of reality, it should, without violence by the subject, penetrate the next. It proves its relation to the object as soon as other objects crystallize around it. In the light that it casts on its chosen substance, others begin to glow.[8]

Of course this is the very essence of the redemptive philosophical practice that Adorno sought for in his writing and in his reading and listening. The crystallization of the thought larvae coalesce around the cell, the bioluminescence of the fireflies enlighten the darkness, and light brings forth light; synchronous, vast, illuminative of the darkness of the earth. The thought-fireflies are the biotic species response to the neomachina and the world-spirit of the rocket fin careering without a subject. They light up the paths of our subjects into the next world.

The development of new ways of periodising geological time has been predicated on understanding the global signals of human intervention in the geological record. This intervention is largely the result of two related processes – the expansion of human organisation and sociality and the expansion of human agency into the development of technology – specifically machines. The global technosphere produced by the social world of human beings now parallels and threatens to subsume the global biosphere. In fact, the biosphere itself now interacts in complex ways with human sociality including the geographical extension of some species and the extinction of others. The interactions between the human and non-human world are often themselves part of complex productions of machines: machines of extraction, production, and knowledge. The development of mechanics has been enmeshed in ideas of using machines to enhance human power as prosthetics or extensions of the human body or the social formation. Using an idea from recent developments in technology we can think of these machines as social machines whether in computing, or factories or slave ships.[9] But these machines are no longer simply to be thought of as mechanical. Not only can we use biomorphic analogies in order to understand machines, new machines are being built which rest upon biological imperatives and foundations rather than simply mechanical ones. This paper examines the development of the social machine and its consequences for the transformation of the geological record in what we are now beginning to call the Anthropocene epoch.

We examine the emergence of the Anthropocene and its implications for both the natural and the social world specifically in the light of sociological debates about periodization, epochs and history. The question of biology and biospheres has been a central aspect of new debates about the Anthropocene. The question of neobiota and social formations is important particularly if we can begin to think about neomachina – new social machine and biological interactions that could point to some new directions in the organisation of social life. We then make a return to classical social understandings of machines, re-reading Marx specifically and his fragment on machines to look at the ways in which humans themselves are subsumed with machine systems that begin to structure themselves as self-organising systems. In the context of this classical account of machines we then look at the aesthetic rendition of machinery and ways in which we can recompose ideas about the social, about human interventions, geological records and mapping in order to think anew about the multiple human extensions and elaborations as well as their interactions with other mechanical and natural forces. We examine the emergence of new co-produced machines and ways in which humans and machines can co-evolve in an autonomous manner.

2. What is the Anthropocene – The rise of the Human neobiota?

Over the last 15 years there have been some significant new debates about human intervention and planetary ecology specifically around the periodization of geological epochs.[10] Crucially this rests on the development of a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – which marks a break from the epoch of the Holocene. There are different accounts of both the reasons for this and the specific periodization but essentially the idea of the Anthropocene marks that moment globally in which human intervention and interaction becomes visible in the geological record. Christian Schwägerl simply names it the ‘human era’[11] whilst Steffen, Broadgate and Deutsch et al use the phraseology of the ‘Great Acceleration’ in which human technical capacity expands to such an extent that the very fabric of the earth changes.[12] Critical theorists like Stoner and Melathopolous have used concepts of pessimism and ecological disaster and helplessness in order to elucidate the theory of the Anthropocene.[13] Paul Alberts encapsulates well the profound relation between humans and nature in interaction – ‘What is the Anthropocene? In one sense, a naming is just established – a proper name that differs yet intersects with modernity’s predilection for periodization, since it designates not just a human-defined interval in historical, cultural or political terms, of which we have many, but, for the first time, the human recalibrated as geological agent’.[14]

The recalibration of the human as a ‘geological agent’ for Alberts challenges us to recompose and re-narrate geomorphology and human responsibility for themselves and the biosphere. He argues that the new metrics and measurements of physical human impact are fundamentally challenges about collectives and socialities in modernity.[15] The Anthropocene but decentres and recentres the question of the human and of human collectives and for Alberts ‘lifts the critical question of human exceptionality to a new level of intensity’.[16] The ‘apparent ascendancy over the non-human’ by the human is for Alberts a set of interventions into and over nature to satisfy human demands and appetites.[17] These interventions have not just been about a separation between the natural biosphere and the mechanical technosphere in which the latter gradually colonizes nature but about what Donna Haraway has called inter/intra-action between multiple forces:

There is no question that anthropogenic processes have had planetary effects, in inter/intra-action with other processes and species, for as long as our species can be identified (a few tens of thousand years); and agriculture has been huge (a few thousand years). Of course, from the start the greatest planetary terraformers (and reformers) of all have been and still are bacteria and their kin, also in inter/intra-action of myriad kinds (including with people and their practices, technological and otherwise).[18]

The interaction between the myriad bacteria, humans and machines that has defined the last thousands of years even before the advent of industrial modernity has now led to the emergence of a distinctive modern biosphere with a global homogenisation of biological entities (flora and fauna) with the advent of a single species of that biosphere dominating production and overseeing interaction in the technical realm of the technosphere – that set of networks, practices and artefacts that is ascendant over the biosphere.[19] For Mark Williams and his colleagues in their dramatic new analysis of the biosphere, humans are signalling their impact globally, transporting organisms that globally overwhelm other organisms – the question for the Anthropocene is how far this becomes signalled in the stratigraphic record.[20] It may be, as they note, that the cause of the rise of humans as a dominating force is human ‘ultrasociality’.[21] The human predilection for aggregating, collectivising, coalescing, collaborating and intervening. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the question of neobiota – those species that have overcome their original spatial ranges and colonised new territories, intentionally or accidentally, as a result of human intervention.[22] As neobiota extend and invade they become exilic, extraterritorial entities. As humans extend themselves into and across nature they also extend other neobiota which transform the biosphere. As Mark Williams et al argue:

Homo sapiens is itself a neobiotic species par excellence, and its members have left their remains and also produced a set of characteristic (and potentially fossilisable) anthropogenic structures that extend from ancient Mesolithic campsites, through the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, to the modern research bases of Antarctica’.[23]

Neobiota, as they extend, negate the forces of other species – ‘Neobiotic species have already reset the path of evolution in many if not most ecosystems. Successful neobiotic taxa will be ancestral to future biotas in a unique resetting of global biosphere history’.[24] New evolutionary descents and genealogies of neobiota have then eclipsed natural non-human systems – anthropogenic biomes or anthromes have displaced hitherto existing biome structures.

The extension of the human neobiota and the parasite neobiota that ascend and extend with the human is largely a product of the development of machines and technology. The emergence of the technosphere is a victory of the prosthetic potential of the human species in its tools, weapons, transports, cultivations.[25] The enhancement of human beings through these machine extensions then leads to the display of the new sedimentary signals of the Anthropocene epoch including the marks of extraction, of the domination of mobility and space through geological manipulation, and of the invasive neobiota of its parallel species and their effects on local biomes and populations. The stratigraphic signals of the new, emerging technosphere (depending on where you would periodise its inauguration) are implicitly entwined with the biosphere which it is both predatory upon and transforms. Humans are also enmeshed in the reproduction of technologies and fabricate their means of production, invention, and production as part of interdependent human/technology compositions.[26] Only with the collapse of the technosphere might the biosphere reset itself as an independent entity either through non-sustainability or catastrophe.[27]

3. The rise of Neomachina

Machinery has been central to social life and the interaction between humans and nature and is therefore central to social and anthropological accounts of the Anthropocene. There have been tentative attempts to construct a sociology of machines[28] but the rise of vast new digital social machines which parallel the development of industrial social machines makes that task even more urgent. The development of digital social machines[29] has enhanced the prosthetic potential of human beings.[30] Machines and automata developed in the same space as the very idea of the human and of human intervention in the classical world. This was profoundly rooted in mechanical analogies for human beings. The myth of Daidalos, Icarus and the labyrinth signified not only the development of craft and making but also the prosthetic machine extension of human beings into the world of nature with the automata of classical Greece accompanying and illustrating what humans thought about themselves. Into the medieval period machines became more elaborate and more central to social life. The emergence of programmable machines further extended the reach of humans as did the emergence of new computing systems of social machines.

Peter Haff has theorised the very nature of the technosphere and its dynamics in six rules; the rules of inaccessibility in which large parts of the technosphere cannot influence directly its human behavioural units, of impotence where the units cannot affect the behaviours of the technological system, of human lack of control of the system, of reciprocity in which the human can only interact with systems his/her own size, of human performance/role in the system, and of provision – in which the technosphere sustains and reproduces the humans within its system as a mode of survival.[31] Haff has also reaffirmed the significance of technology as a geological phenomenon in the Anthropocene.[32] The multiple interacting system of the technosphere is one in which human agency is lost, absent or mitigated and in which the systemic set of machines initiates and orders the human relations locked within it. As Judith Donath has noted in her work on digital social machines;

A machine is inherently sterile, inanimate, automated, unthinking. The “social machine” under its sinister interpretation processes people for their data; it automates relationships, atrophying the human dimension. As designers and users of these technologies, we need to recognize this darker side to ensure we are instead creating tools for the benefit of those who use them.[33]

The literally in-animate, non-sentient entity has its origin in human tool-structures, prosthetic enhancements and extensions, but comes to be the eventual animateur of human life and social relations. As the human extends itself as species of neobiota with the machine so the machine extends itself over the life of the biosphere and the human neobiota. The machines creates vast systems of neomachina, machines which are invasive, exilic, extraterritorial, subsuming biological entities, other machines, and homogenizing both biosphere and technosphere in its colonisation.

But can we speak of a machine as it is and of what we know of it? The machine is in movement, is dynamic, even in its non-sentience. For Raunig the machine is an event rather than a defined non-being:

Is it about a machine? The question is not easy to answer, but correctly posed. The question should certainly not be: What is a machine? Or even: Who is a machine? It is not a question of the essence, but of the event, not about is, but about and, about concatenations and connections, compositions and movements that constitute a machine.[34]

These concatenations, connections, compositions and movements within the technosphere frustrate, supervise and survey the impotent human neobiota within the system. For Raunig:

Abstract machines are things like this, which themselves have no form, are formless, amorphous, unformed. Yet their unformed-ness is not to be understood here as a lack, but rather as the ambivalent precondition for the emergence of fear as well as for the invention of new, terrifying forms of concatenation.[35]

The new concatenation, coalition, and coalescence of the neomachinic species and abstract social and supervisory machines itself determines the forms of social relations within the machinic system as the human neobiota both initiates that system and becomes its servant as both a human unit and a biotic species under the control of the machines. Agency and sociality then become forms of human interaction, which serve to reproduce the machine as the machine also both reproduced and sustains human life and potentially brings it to an end in ecological catastrophe or re-invents new forms of neobiotic biospheres and technospheres in the image of the machine coloniser rather than the human or as a human/machine interaction. The spectre of self-organised and self-replicating machines is part and parcel of new machine-initiated social orders and socialities particularly when conjunctions and concatenations of machines and biologies begin to emerge as organic, biomorphic machines, of electric sheep. These have moved beyond fabricated machine replications of biological entities into new organisms which are themselves hybrid structures or nanomachines, comprised of organic molecules and machine components. The biologic-mechanical flight machines of Tatlin[36] become realised, for example, in the Cyborg Beetles of the Maharbiz group and their aspiration to engineer and fabricate new hybrid and sentient entities. In fact the machine analogy already holds for biology, as Bruce Alberts notes:

We have always underestimated cells. … The entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. … Why do we call the large protein assemblies that underlie cell function protein machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts.[37]

The question is not one then just of analogy but of the emergence of new biomorphic and organic machines which are new coalitions of biology and technology and potentially new ways of overseeing social orders and relations. The interaction between the machine and the human relations in neomachina can be illustrated if we move back to the classical accounts of the ‘analogue’ machines of early capital.

4. Marx and machines: Out of a London winter, long ago

There have been some commentaries on Marx and machines specifically around technology and productive forces.[38] This has largely centred on the use of machinery in Capital and in what has come to be known as the ‘Fragment on Machines’ which spans two part sections of the notebooks of the Grundrisse. Karl Marx’s ‘Fragment on Machines’ in the Grundrisse[39] has been the source of some reflection specifically in terms of the role of technology in the development of capital and in machines as social movements. The seven Grundrisse notebooks of the winter of 1857-1858 have been the source of significant new thinking about Marx specifically since the controversial translation and commentary by Martin Nicolaus in 1973 – as Nicolaus says in his commentary – ‘In a word, the times have once more turned ‘dialectical’; and so these texts out of a London winter, long ago, are coming home’.[40] The following is not an exposition of Marx in the machinery but a reading and an elaboration in the light of subsequent technological developments outlined above.

For Marx the central question in the machine is its relationship to what we might call its sentient human units – units which are not the directing forces of the machine but rather sentient elements of its mechanism directed by the automated machine system. As capital enhances itself through the productive process accruing to itself sets of machines so the human labour is transformed by a series of metamorphoses into those sets. Marx sees this as the development of a systematic process of automation in which the automatic governs and supervises the entirety of the new machine system with the human as appendages or as ‘conscious linkages’.[41] Sentience is an integral part of the system but human labour is neither its directing force. The machine has its own virtuosities and souls. It is not a prosthetic instrument of labour in which the intentions and aspirations of its human designers and makers are imprinted upon either the machine or the objects it produces. The activity of labour and of sentience is to mediate the machine’s work and action upon the material and to guard against disruption and interruption.[42] The machine does not then elaborate human aspirations only the laws of the machine. Labour is therefore an abstraction of the machine system which is both inanimate and animateur in that it propels human activity in its service as a power over and above human labour and production. At the same time the sentient elements and appendages are necessary accessories of the machine – they are literally dependent living labour.[43]

The appropriation of sentient beings by the machinery of fixed capital[44] then begs the question of how the machine developed from instrument of production into a grand automated force which subsumes the living labour that produced the machine and machine systems in the first instance. Surprisingly the answer lies not in the materiality of the machinic system but in the immateriality of what Marx calls the ‘general intellect’ – the machines are just the ‘power of knowledge, objectified. For Marx:

Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it. To what degree the powers of social production have been produced, not only in the form of knowledge, but also as immediate organs of social practice, of the real life process.[45]

Nature in its biospherical form is that territory in which ‘industry’ and technique have manipulated through ‘will over nature’ or ‘human participation in nature’. The emergence of the machinic technosphere is part and parcel of the extension of the organic human and human brain into and over nature, and of the human hand. The domination of and intervention in nature is at once a material force of extraction and an intellectual surveillance of its natural forms, material, and relations, as well as species. Social practice is a practice over and in nature but is only made possible by the immateriality of knowledge if and when that knowledge becomes a material practice. As the process of production develops that knowledge, intellectuality and sentience which gave birth to the machine gradually (through a variety of metamorphoses) becomes simply the appendage and the conscious linkage of a system that should not be interrupted, diverted, or stopped. The human sentients are therefore just mediators and technicians of an abstract social knowledge made concrete rather than agents in and of themselves through or against the machine.

In Hardt and Negri’s account of the ‘machinic logic of the multitude’ they see the multitude responding to machines in an autonomous and self-valorizing manner expressing themselves as ‘machines of innovation’ and of possibility.[46] Negri in his analysis of the ‘Fragment on machines’ and his close reading of the Grundrisse notebooks argues this about the fragment – ‘This is, without doubt, the highest use of an antagonistic and constituting dialectic that we can find, certainly in the Grundrisse, but perhaps also in the whole of Marx’s work’.[47] How then do the sentient, conscious linkages of the Grand automata become part of an antagonistic and constituting dialectic or at least begin to perceive of themselves as in that relation? Negri argues that antagonistic subjectivities emerge amidst the machinery at the same time as ‘The subjectivity of capital has been violently activated. Machines and science have constituted and produced it’.[48] This is because the human entity is irreducible and social and not just sentient, as Negri says – ‘Social but concrete, he is exaltation and overdetermination, expansion of enjoyment, founder of that expansion’.[49] Ultimately the very organs of intellectual and material practice, the will to prostheticise into machines in the first place is itself the basis of antagonism and desire. This means the expansion of human possibility but also the expansion of human play – that machines are not simply productive mechanisms with sentient elements but ludic machines which extend our capacity for games, even if that play is itself a threat to the biosphere – exploration, species privileged because they are our toys, the use of natural materials for digital social machines which enhance our connectivity.

The question of sentience and antagonism then take new machinic form rather than taking over the old machines for expansion and desire. The subsumption of antagonism between capital and labour, human and machine takes place with the extension of play. The new ludic production of playfulness is not just about antagonism but also about mediation and combination as new forms of prosthetics and sentience and extension are made possible with technology. Humans potentially become agents of their own imaginations enmeshed in complex interactions between machines and biology. Ultimately these agents combine into new combinations of machine and organism as machines become more biological and biology becomes more machinic.

5.New social machines and new directions

If the machinic cultures of early industrial civilisations were essentially fixed capital or capital congealed in static engines then the neomachinic cultures of the Anthropocene analogous, and parallel with their neobiotic human species, are mobile, exilic and extraterritorial. The imperialism of the neomachina is an extension across geographical locations including space[50] but also the extension of machine technologies into the biological including into and entwined with human beings themselves. The nanotechnologic colonisation of bio-forms may be one of the definitive future geological markers in stratigraphic records and memory and signal the supremacy of the Anthropocene machine system at the same time as the human markers which give that epoch its name are themselves displaced by machines. The analysis of the relations between the machines and the Anthropocene then rest on three significant features of the potential successor to the Holocene; of social machines, of human sentience and agency, and of the collision and intersection of the bio and technospheres as the technological occupies more geographical and biological space and as the human changes, changes which can be perceived in future fossilised records.

If the Anthropocene is largely the product of human collectivity, sociality and ultrasociality then the extension of human instruments of extraction and production into nature have created new social machines. From the steam engine to the ludic, interactive gameboard machines are at nature machines of sociality with a whole series of social relations and social mechanisms locked around and within them.

The question that Marx and Negri pose about the exact role of sentient beings with vast automated systems still stands – can those ‘conscious linkages’ in automatons be antagonistic and what forms might this take in machine systems? This becomes even more important as we get the further enmeshing of organic and machine systems in gaming and in nanotechnologies.

The colonisation of biology by machines is part and parcel of the growing technosphere with all of its implications for species, territories and geological records. The interactivity between systems, between human and nature and between the machine and the organism diverts evolutionary paths away from what they would have been had human beings not existed as a neobiotic species. New evolutionary routes and combinations are now developing, new ‘hopeful monsters’ produced, new flight machines postulated that combine and coalesce features of biology and machine. These are continental, epochal shifts with significant implications for the futures of nature and its species. It becomes as Adorno might say – the ‘world-spirit’ in the form of mechanical, bioluminescent firefly or Cyborg beetle.


[1] Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia:Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, (London:New Left Books, 1974), p.18, 33.

[2] Theodor Adorno, Dream Notes, trans. Rodney Livingstone, (Cambridge:Polity, 2007), pp.11-12.

[3] Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia:Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, (London:New Left Books, 1974), p.19.

[4] Ibid, p.55.

[5] Theodor Adorno, Philosophy of Modern Music, (New York:Schocken, 1973).

[6] Theodor Adorno, Philosophy of New Music, translated, Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Hullot-Kentor, (Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, 2006), p.5.

[7] Theodor Adorno, Introduction to the sociology of music, trans. E.B. Ashton, (New York:Continuum, 1989), p.63, 70.

[8] Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia:Reflections from Damaged Life, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, (London:New Left Books, 1974), p.87.

[9] See forthcoming from Martyn Hudson, The Slave Ship, Memory and the Origin of Modernity, (Farnham:Ashgate, 2015).

[10] See Anthony Barnosky, Dodging Extinction: Power, Food, Money, and the Future of Life on Earth, (Berkeley, CA:University of California Press, 2014), Paul Crutzen, and Eugene Stoermer, ‘The “Anthropocene”’, IGBP Newsletter 41:17-18, (2000) and Jan Zalasiewicz et al, ‘Are we now living in the Anthropocene?’ GSA Today 18, 4-8, (2008).

[11] Christian Schwägerl, The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How it Shapes our Planet, (Santa Fe:Synergetic Press, 2014).

[12] Will Steffen et al, ‘The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration’, The Anthropocene Review 2, (2015), 81-98.

[13] Alexander Stoner and Andony Melathopolous, Freedom in the Anthropocene: Twentieth-Century Helplessness in the Face of Climate Change, (New York:Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

[14] Paul Alberts, ‘Responsibility Towards Life in the Early Anthropocene’, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 16:4, (2011), 5-17, p.5.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid, p.9.

[17] Ibid, p.14.

[18] Donna Haraway, ‘Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene,

Chthulucene: Making Kin’, Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 159-165, (2015), p.159.

[19] Mark Williams et al, ‘The Anthropocene biosphere’, The Anthropocene Review, 1-24, (2015), Online first, p.1.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid, p.5.

[22] Ibid, p.8.

[23] Ibid, p.9.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid, p.12.

[26] Ibid, p.13.

[27] Ibid, p.17.

[28] See Mitchell Whitelaw, Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2004) and Steve Woolgar, ‘Why not a Sociology of Machines? The Case of Sociology and Artificial Intelligence’, Sociology 19:4, (1985), 557-572.

[29] See Martyn Hudson, ‘Desire Lines: Open Educational Collections, Memory and the Social Machine’, Online Educational Research Journal, 6:5, (2015), 1-20. Also the specific work of Jeff Vass and his collaborators; Jeff Vass, and Jo Munson, ‘Revisiting the three Rs of social machines: reflexivity, recognition and responsivity’, WWW 15 Companion, Florence, IT, 18 – 22 May 2015, Jeff Vass, ‘Webscience, ‘social machines’ and principles for redesigning theories of agency: a prolegomenon’, in ACM Webscience Track Conference, Paris, FR, 02 – 04 May 2013 and Jeff Vass, ‘Does the Internet ‘absorb’ human subjectivity and sociality? The limitations of two current dynamic process models to answer this question, in World Wide Web 2012, Lyon, FR, 16 – 20 Apr 2012.

[30] David Wills, (1995) Prosthetics, (Stanford:Stanford University Press, 1995).

[31] Peter K. Haff, P.K. ‘Humans and Technology in the Anthropocene: Six Rules’, The Anthropocene Review 1, (2014a), 126-130.

[32] Peter K. Haff, ‘Technology as a geological phenomenon: implications for human well-being’, Geological Society special publication, 395:1, (2014b), 301-309.

[33] Judith Donath, The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online, (Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press, 2012), p.viii.

[34] Gerald Raunig, A Thousand Machines: A Concise Philosophy of the Machine as Social Movement, trans. Aileen Derieg, (Los Angeles:Semiotext(e), 2010), p.19 and see also Raunig, ‘A Few Fragments on Machines’, trans. Aileen Derieg, Eipcp: instituto europeo para políticas culturales progresivas,, accessed 25/06/2015.

[35] Ibid, p.117.

[36] Andreas Broeckmann, ‘Escaping Gravity: Letatlin and Other Utopian Flying Machines in Twentieth-Century Art—Five Marginalia’, at, accessed 07/07/2015, originally published in Museum Tinguely: Tatlin – New Art for a New World, International Symposium, Basel, 2013, 291-295.

[37] Bruce Alberts, ‘The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines: Preparing the Next Generation of Molecular Biologists’, Cell, 92(February 8, 1998), p.291.

[38] Donald MacKenzie, ‘Marx and the Machine’, Technology and Culture, 25:3, (1984), 473-502.

[39] Karl Marx, ‘Fragment on Machines,’ in Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft), Trans. Martin Nicolaus, (Harmondsworth:Penguin/New Left Books, 1973) 692-712.

[40] Ibid, p.63.

[41] Ibid, p.692.

[42] Ibid, p.692-693.

[43] Ibid, p.693.

[44] Ibid, p.702.

[45] Ibid, p.706.

[46] Michael Hardt, and Antonio Negri, Empire, (Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard University Press, 2001) p.369.

[47] Antonio Negri, Marx Beyond Marx: Lessons on the Grundrisse, trans. Harry Cleaver, Michael Ryan and Maurizio Viano, edited by Jim Fleming, (New York:Autonomedia/Pluto, 1991) p.139.

[48] Ibid, p.143.

[49] Ibid, p.146.

[50] Rachel Armstrong, ‘After Machines: An Ecological Age of Space Exploration’, Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 67(07-09), (2014), 279-289.

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Martyn Hudson

Martyn Hudson

Martyn is a critical theorist and sociologist. His book on slave cultures and capitalism is forthcoming from Ashgate press – The Slave Ship, Memory and the Origin of Modernity (2015). He has published widely in sound studies, critical theory, history and cultural landscapes. He is a refugee rights activist and works with a number of organisations such as Music Action International and the Rohingya Survival Foundation and is a researcher at Newcastle University, UK.
Martyn Hudson

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