"Brain-mimicking Machine" in Digital Utopias: From Memex to Hypertext and Beyond


Computer-brain analogies are ubiquitous in contemporary culture. They also have a long and relevant history. Throughout the history of computer development, computers as “brain-mimicking machines” were used as blueprints for computer design, as inspiration for new visionary ideas, as tools of liberation and as ideological construct obscuring actually existing power relations. Today, with the growing disenchantment with the results of digital transformation, we are forced to admit that these analogies often underpin relationships between human and technology that are disempowering and increasingly problematic.

Keywords: human-machine symbiosis, augmented reality, memex, hypertext, ideology, Web 2.0, platform capitalism

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