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Innovation and Technical Transformations in Living Technology: An Entanglement of Agentised Matter, ANT, and Natural Computing

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel Armstrong



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by IGI Global, 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This essay proposes that humans are in the midst of a cultural shift from the Industrial Age to an Ecological Era, which demands that one re-conceptualize the world and operate within it differently. It discusses the opportunities raised by Actor Network Theory (ANT) in helping one navigate the transition from an object- centred view of reality, towards one that also engages with process-oriented concepts. In particular, the impact of the convergence of these worldviews on technological innovation is explored through recognising a different material framework that engages with nonlinear systems. ANT offers a unique opportunity to deal with mat- ter at far from equilibrium through the notion of assemblages, which act as a new kind of operating system that behaves in remarkably lifelike ways. Empirical evidence is provided for such an ANT-based, production platform through laboratory findings in an emerging field of computation called ‘natural’ computing. A range of models and prototypes are discussed. The resultant lifelike technologies require unique infrastructures that facilitate the movement of elemental fabrics (earth, air, heat, water). While much evidence for their existence is propositional and qualitative, as they are in their earliest stages of development, these lifelike technologies have the potential to radically alter the impact of human development and transform it from being harmful to beneficial to the environment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Armstrong R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Actor-Network Theory and Technological Innovation

Year: 2015

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Pages: 18-42

Print publication date: 02/03/2015

Online publication date: 02/03/2015

Acceptance date: 30/01/2015

Date deposited: 16/03/2016

ISSN (print): 1942-535X

ISSN (electronic): 1942-5368

Publisher: IGI Global

URL: 10.4018/IJANTTI.2015010103

DOI: 10.4018/IJANTTI.2015010103

Notes: This was an invited essay that is a first of its kind to position the technology of natural computing with the systems framework of actor network theory


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