Laura Drake, Ph.D., “Frictionless Technologies: The Innovation of Human Obsolescence”
Paper presented as part of the special track “Powerful Humans and More Powerful Technologies” at the Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology, May 20-22, 2019, Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas.
Technological innovations around frictionlessness, which extend beyond convenience and have begun cutting into human agency, have assumed a trajectory of promoting the obsolescence of all but increasingly small numbers of powerful humans. Human life is about doing things (action), not merely having experiences (streaming). The first is active, the second is passive. This paper explores the functional mechanisms by which two meta-trends in frictionless technology are depleting, and deleting, human agency. In building technologies that promise the ultimate in frictionless life, humanity may become the first species to engineer its own obsolescence.