1.     Vilém Flusser, The shape of things: a philosophy of design, translated by Anthony Matthews (London: Reaktion Books, 1999), 45.




2.     Klaus Schwab, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Encyclopædia Britannica (Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., May 25, 2018).












3.     Ibid.










4.     Ibid.








5.     Marco Almada, “Human intervention in automated decision-making: toward the construction of contestable systems “ in Seventeenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law (ICAIL’19), June 17–21, 2019, Montreal.


















































6.     Klint Finley, “Go Ahead, Stream All You Want. The Internet Is Fine-for Now,” Wired, Conde Nast, March 29, 2020. 


















7.      Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft: the power of infrastructure space (New York: Verso Books, 2016).
















8.       Benjamin Bratton, The terraforming, (Moscow: Strelka Press, July 2019).







9.      J. Baird Callicott, In defense of land ethic: essays in environmental philosophy, (New York: State University of New York Press, 1989).

DATA CENTERS, A PARADOXAL INTERRELATION BETWEEN MACHINE LANDSCAPES, HUMAN BODY AND NATURE:
INTRODUCTION



Architectural spaces and complexes such as power plant, warehouses, industries, represent the anchor of our human activity and by constantly extracting and transforming ressources and energy movement, their activity produce all sort of matter in order to please our everyday needs. However, it seems that we humans keep moving away from it, leaving the machines and computers in these peculiar environments and placing our body outside of the core of its operation.

        First, the third industrial revolution modified the system by integrating computers and software that organized the machine’s movements and performance - from the machine to the robot1. It was manifested by the emergence of computers and management software, automated machinery and hydraulic applications, all of which required a greater quantity of electrical and electronic equipment, including cables, wires and printed circuits. It has also led to more and more autonomous areas, which can run night and day, without a break in the manufacturing process2. This industrial structure, more commonly known as Industry 3.0, is mainly characterized by the automation of the links in the production chain, keeping people away from the manual process by placing them behind a computer screen in a control station. More recently, our increasingly digital life has led to the fourth revolution in industrial methods, a revolution that encompasses the interconnectivity of life in the 21st century and leads to physical cyber systems that can communicate with each other and with humans via the Internet. This Industry 4.0 would aim to develop smart factories by incorporating higher levels of automation and digitization of existing installations, and by sharing production data through the cloud3. It reflects the state of the new world, which is no longer only connected by physical infrastructure – railways, roads and telephone cables – but is now connected by a complex digital network, a global network. The automation in the industrial field refers to the substitution of man by one or more machines to automatically carry out a specific operating program. It is the fact of making a process automatic, which implies that this process happens without human intervention4. This is where the difference lies: it adds to the mechanical system the ability to perform autonomous tasks. This capacity can be primarily physical, such as for packaging machines or stacker cranes, but also digital. In the last case, the system integrates the notion of intelligence and decision-making, based on algorithms, which allows it to address constraints, criteria and objectives5.

        This approach allows machines to communicate with other machines and use customer data in the production process. In addition, there is full traceability of the product manufacturing process. The fourth industrial revolution facilitates the autonomous and efficient operation of components and machines as well as communication and interaction between machines and people regardless of their location. Theoretically, the human physical presence would be completely erased from the industrial space but this fourth revolution being still ongoing is difficult to be analysed, the effects and impacts that these transformations can have on society as a whole and on the environment. Yet it is fascinating to observe the new typologies of automated spaces, which seem to be less designed for the human body and more optimized for the comfort of the machine. More rooms have been created in which networked machines and cognitive computing are the kings, definitively excluding humans from these areas.

       This increasing migration of humans from industrial areas resonates directly with the expansion of computer and Internet which allows the interconnectivity of computers and machines with their user. More and more machines are becoming autonomous and are willing to be controlled and analysed at a distance, moving the work into a virtual dimension, detached from the physiciality of production. Furthermore as individuals, we seem to create a particular existence on the internet, developping an extension of our body in the cloud and loading more and more of it within the confines of data centers all over the world. Each data we create through our computer, smartphone or even automatically generated by a credit card payment for example, is sleeping in a data center or server farm somewhere on the globe. However, it seems that this reality has been globally left unknown, as if all these data were floeating in the air and magically ending up on our personal screen.

        In the publication, we investigate the structures containing all data, the data centers, in order to observe the recent typology of spaces that seems to be growing more and more important nowadays. The period of global confinement has multiplied our online presence and accelerated the expansion of ourselves that many of us have already begun6. The acceleration and mulitplication of virtual activity is being hosted within the walls of data centers around the globe, and our bodies are more than ever traveling and multiplying in this immense dimension. The facility that hosts and keeps alive our virtual body is contained within enclosed and protected spaces whose environment is extremely sensitive and controlled. Although we densely inhabit these spaces, we are nevertheless totally detached from them. In fact, we know very few of our international hosts. And if we were to physically enter all of them, we would be disrupting the whole of their enclosure, at the risk of damaging or even breaking it. 

        The fully automated machine, connected to a network is no longer comparable to human today and is no longer relative to it either. It seems that over time, it has never stopped pushing its limits and connections beyond its physicality7. Due to the infrastructure and interconnectivity of the networks, it now has access to a considerable amount of data, which is part of a huge global and intercommunicating network. This communication is no longer simply based on human language but extends to a vast codification and quantification of data, intensely complex due to the development of intelligent systems (‘smart factories’). Yet, physically excluded from this process, we have been able to see through the example of data centers, how correlated we are to the ‘invisible’ infrastructure of internet. Meanwhile, we are witnessing the emergence and development of many intelligent and quasi-autonomous devices, capable of solving the most complex algorithms in a much more efficient way than a simple human being, strengthening the standardized global network. As as Bratton describes it in his book The Terraforming8, the existing interconnected web resonates deeply with the constant and infinite interactions of the living organisms in our ecosystem.

        Thus, this new model pushes us to broaden our perspective on a more global vision of the world, taking into consideration all the species and active organisms of the globe and burying for good our obsolete anthropocentric worldview. Moreover, based on an Ecocentric9 point of view, it seems that automated machines and robots are new active entities, being an integral part of our global ecosystems. Devoid of life and having no organic property, they are nonetheless actors who influence and alter this structure. Should we then consider the machine, or the robot, as a species in its own right and as part of all the organisms that inhabit the globe? By thinking of autonomous machines and robotics as living and active entities, a futur ecological awareness, what Timothy Morton calls ‘the symbiotic real’, including machine landscapes and interconnected artificial entities, ubiquitous today.








ALMADA, Marco. “Human intervention in automated decision-making: toward the construction of contestable systems.“ In Seventeenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law (ICAIL’19.) June 17–21, 2019, Montreal. https://doi.org/10.1145/3322640.3326699.

BRATTON Benjamin. The terraforming. Moscow: Strelka Press, July 2019.

CALLICOTT, J. Baird. In defense of land ethic: essays in environmental philosophy. New York: State University of New York Press, 1989.


EASTERLING, Keller. Extrastatecraft: the power of infrastructure space. New York: Verso Books, 2016.

FLUSSER, Vilém. The shape of things: a philosophy of design, translated by Anthony Matthews. London: Reaktion Books, 1999.

INLEY, Klint Finley “Go Ahead, Stream All You Want. The Internet Is Fine-for Now.” Wired. Conde Nast, March 29, 2020. https://www.wired.com/story/stream-all-want-internet-fine-now/.

SCHWAB,Klaus. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., May 25, 2018. https://www. britannica.com/topic/The-Fourth-Industrial-Revolution-2119734.