Intelligent agency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We are facing a new technological assemblage, networks of communication and information technology which mediate our lives in new ways. Within the discourses surrounding these new networks, amidst promises of unlimited agency, power and control, sits the key figure of the intelligent agent. An intelligent agent is a software program that would act in one's place in cyberspace, as a digital butler of sorts. Drawing on the actor-network theory of Bruno Latour and others, and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, this article analyses the politics and possibilities of intelligent agents. It focuses on prominent themes in the discourse about intelligent agents, such as libertarianism, consumerism, trust, and the abandonment of the body into a digital realm. Ultimately, the article argues, we need to view technologies, and agency, as embodied and contextualized, and abandon the modernist separation of humans and technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-428
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Actor-network theory
  • Deleuze and Guattari
  • Intelligent agents
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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