Everything becomes imperceptible, everything is becoming-imperceptible on the plane of consistency, which is nevertheless precisely where the imperceptible is seen and heard. It is the Planomenon, or the Rhizosphere, the Criterium (and still other names, as the number of dimensions increases. At n dimensions, it is called the Hypersphere, the Mechanosphere. It is the abstract Figure, or rather, since it has no form itself, the abstract Machine of which each concrete assemblage is a multiplicity, a becoming, a segment, a vibration. And the abstract machine is the intersection of them all.
—Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
Over the years my interest in technology, capitalism, and philosophy have lead me into some very strange territory, territory of thought that has for the most part deterriotorialized my assumptions, prejudices, and beliefs in what it means to be human. Lately this convergence to technology and commerce have begun reformatting the very structures of political economics and the liberal world view that have since the Enlightenment Age been the cornerstone of modern society and civilization. Our universalists pretensions which guided most of the globalization of commerce during this era of expansion have led us into war, climacteric devastation, and the collapse of the very value systems that once embedded us in the world.
Illustration depicting a green roadsign with a paradise concept. Blue sky background.
What we exclusively aim at are machines, the functions of which, make us superfluous, turn us off, and liquidate us. It is irrelevant that this target condition is only ever approximated. What counts is the tendency, and this is ‘without us’.
—Günther Anders (1902-1992)
Karl Marx in one of those insightful passages which would earmark the underlying contradictions within capitalism would say in the first volume of his classic critique of political economy:
there is an immanent contradiction in the application of machinery to the production of surplus-value, since, of the two factors of the surplus-value created by a given amount of capital, one, the rate of surplus-value, cannot be increased except by diminishing the other, the number of workers. This contradiction comes to light as soon as machinery has come into general use in a given industry, for then the value of the machine-produced commodity regulates the social value of all commodities of the same kind; and it is this contradiction which in turn drives the capitalist, without his being aware of the fact, to the most ruthless and excessive prolongation of the working day, in order that he may secure compensation for the decrease in the relative number of workers exploited by increasing not only relative but also absolute surplus labour.1
The tendency in capitalism is to increase profits while at the same time eliminating the need for workers, which as automation and assembly lines began to incorporate Taylorist principles of efficiency and production would slowly replace the workers with machines while at the same time enforcing long hours for the remaining workforce.
That was then, in our own time with the rise of network societies and the digital age what we are seeing is that the more our lives, production processes and intellectual and cognitive activities configure themselves around machines, the less humans are needed as machines become more capable.2 One might say that intelligence itself is migrating from the human to its anorganic rivals, that the optimization of intelligence in material artifacts is becoming the entry into an Inhuman Age of Machinic Life.