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Martin-Juchat, F., “Religions, Technologies, and Civilisations: Neo-animism of the Internet of Things in Connected Societies”

Chapitre paru in Ugur Bakan & Lara Martin Lengel (eds.), Social Media Archaeology from Theory to Practice, MacroWorld, pp.41-61, 2021.

Résumé :

Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) current success in its various forms cannot only be explained by the alliance between financial capitalism and technological development, nor by the relationship between technological innovation and the so-called attention economy. From the viewpoint adopted in this contribution of historical anthropology of technology, it seems insufficient to denounce the risk of submission to techno-determinist logics, themselves conceived as the result of neo-liberal socio-economic dynamics. In this respect, the reading of anthropologists and philosophers of technology who have analyzed the relationship between technology and civilization appears essential to understand what is culturally at stake in the current development of technologies integrating AI like the Internet Of Things (IoT). In the wake of these authors, a central hypothesis will be developed in this article. Success through dependence on technology can also be explained by the fact that an animist compulsion has not disappeared in modern societies. Thanks to AI, IoT carries animist values compatibles with those of modernity. The analysis of advertisings, journalistic discourses on IoT, and consumer reviews present on social media confirm this hypothesis. Social media thus participate in the diffusion of neo-animism, which is being made possible by the development of AI. By this revisited theoretical framework, more studies will be compiled to better understand the meaning of this neo-animism in the age of connected societies.