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Automating prosumption: The decline of the prosumer and the rise of the prosuming machines

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


This essay builds on and expands the domain of the burgeoning literature on the human prosumer and the process of prosumption. Just as the prosumer and prosumption are finally getting the attention they have always deserved, a dramatic technological change – the rise of smart prosuming machines – is taking place that is reducing the importance of the human prosumer. While the impact of these machines on producers (here conceived of as prosumers-as-producers) has long been obvious, what has changed the most is the explosion, and the growing impact, of these machines on consumers (or prosumers-as-consumers). A number of examples are offered of smart prosuming machines for humans. The latter are often unaware of the prosumption being done by smart machines, especially on the Internet. While smart prosuming machines offer many advantages, the danger lies in the replacement of human by non-human technologies and the control exercised by them. This is especially the case on the Internet of Things where many smart prosuming machines function, interrelate, and operate as autonomous, self-organizing devices.