Moved by Machines: Performance Metaphors and Philosophy of Technology


Moved by Machines

Performance Metaphors and Philosophy of Technology

(Routledge, 2019)





Given the rapid development of new technologies such as smart devices, robots, and artificial intelligence and their impact on the lives of people and on society, it is important and urgent to construct conceptual frameworks that help us to understand and evaluate them. Benefiting from tendencies towards a performative turn in the humanities and social sciences, drawing on thinking about the performing arts, and responding to gaps in contemporary artefact-oriented philosophy of technology, this book moves thinking about technology forward by using performance as a metaphor to understand and evaluate what we do with technology and what technology does with us.

Focusing on the themes of knowledge/experience, agency, and power, and discussing some pertinent ethical issues such as deception, the narrative of the book moves through a number of performance practices: dance, theatre, music, stage magic, and (perhaps surprisingly) philosophy. These are used as sources for metaphors to think about technology—in particular contemporary devices and machines—and as interfaces to bring in various theories that are not usually employed in philosophy of technology. The result is a sequence of gestures and movements towards a performance-oriented conceptual framework for a thinking about technology which, liberated from the static, vision-centred, and dualistic metaphors offered by traditional philosophy, can do more justice to the phenomenology of our daily embodied, social, kinetic, temporal, and narrative performances with technology, our technoperformances.

This book will appeal to scholars of philosophy of technology and performance studies who are interested in reconceptualizing the roles and impact of modern technology.

Reviewed by Richard S. Lewis in Postdigital Science and Education.