The Human in the Machine: Black Speculation and Revolutionary Technoculture Beyond the Human


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships


American Studies


Black studies scholars define the human as a symbol of white modernity that shapes antiblack oppression. Digital technology exacerbates this antiblackness, yet its status as a boon to humanity endures. Who, then, is considered human in the context of digital technology and what does decentering the human do for its development and design? Bridging Black studies and science and technology studies, this project explores both the perpetuation of antiblackness via artificial intelligence, data extraction, and financial technology like cryptocurrency and how Black radical speculative practices resist it. “The Human in the Machine” relies on a mixed-methods approach to articulate the role of the human in today’s technologies and to demonstrate how Black speculation decenters this figure in ways that radically shift the nature of technology. In critically engaging the relationship between the human, dominant technologies, and blackness, this project foregrounds possibilities for technology beyond its current propensity for exploitation and control.