Laura Drake, Ph.D., “Frictionless Technologies: The Innovation of Human Obsolescence”

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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.


Recent innovations around frictionless technology, 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. We explore the functional mechanisms by which two meta-trends, the automation of human functions and the buffering of humans from one another, are converting human minds into a human data reserve for the use of algorithmic systems, thereby rendering humans obsolete to themselves and one another. In building technologies that promise the ultimate in frictionless life, humanity may become the first species to engineer its own obsolescence.


Paper – Frictionless Technologies: The Innovation of Human Obsolescence (2019)