Towards Machine Independence: From Mechanically Programmed Devices to the Internet of Things

  • Arthur TatnallEmail author
  • Bill Davey
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 491)


This is an historical account of the development of an aspect of technology and of machines, leading to information technologies, the Internet and the Internet of Things. It points to an increasing trend towards these machines and devices becoming more and more independent of human intervention and control. We have not quite got there yet, but a clear trend can be observed nevertheless from mechanically controlled machines such as Al-Jazari’s Castle Clock which a naïve 13th century observer could have thought had a life of its own to modern smart kitchen and household appliances (from the Internet of Things) that really could be said to have a degree of independence. The paper makes use of actor-network theory as a lens for understanding the human and non-human elements of this historical trend.


Machines Technology Information technology Independence Human operating Control Internet Internet of Things Artificial intelligence Science fiction Actor-Network Theory 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.RMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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