Augmented Undercommons

The Augmented Undercommons and The Path to The Sun: An Exploration of Liberatory Technology and other Revolutionary Tools

Gunshot-detecting microphones, killer drones and baby fingerprint scanners all exist to convince citizens that they are necessary developments for a safe society. Yet, Black technologists and innovators refuse to accept this fallacy. They are constructing beneath the surveillance state in, what I call, the augmented undercommons. The augmented undercommons, developed from Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s idea of the undercommons, is a parallel location where all who refuse to submit to technology’s watchful eye may freely reside while reconfiguring the world’s understanding of ‘innovation’ and ‘security.’ Through three distinct case studies, I uncover how digital maroons are reconstructing the design process and challenging industry standards. I also investigate the flaws that linger even in systems intended for freedom and how they amplify larger societal issues. Ultimately, there is a multitude of problems troubling the digital age, but the process of building a rocket below ground before sending it flying in the sky reminds us all that we must go low before we can go high.

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