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An Anthropology of the MachineTokyo's Commuter Train Network$
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Michael Fisch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226558417

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226558691.001.0001

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Operation without Capacity

Operation without Capacity

(p.79) Three Operation without Capacity
An Anthropology of the Machine

Michael Fisch

University of Chicago Press

Chapter three interrogates the technicity of Tokyo’s commuter train network following the development in the 1980s of a new control technology that transforms it into a self-organizing infrastructure. The discussion questions the specific ethical value produced via the technicity of the new technology and at the same time offers critical reflection on the concept of technicity in general as a metric for techno-ethics. The new technology, it is shown, ostensibly improves the technicity of the network by reshaping its organizational schema to allow it to accommodate operational irregularities as part of its regular emergent order. The result is an infrastructure that distills the fundamental infrastructural contradiction of the contemporary era by virtue of the corollary it produces between extreme infrastructure and extreme capitalism. Tracing the emergence of this new corollary in a series of crises of capacity beginning in the late 1960s, the discussion in the chapter moves to critique the way in which agile corporate capitalism has been able to deftly maneuver in recent decades to colonize the conceptual interventions of machine thinking.

Keywords:   Capitalism, Emergence, Resilience

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