The machine has become the Other against which we compare ourselves. Aided by artificial intelligence, computers and robots are starting to surpass humans in the physical, linguistic, and intellectual skills that we once thought defined us as the dominant species. One response by science and technology has been to attempt to enhance humans as cyborgs who are able to keep up with our machine Others. More extreme responses are envisioned by transhumanists who anticipate that we will become a near-immortal transhuman species, even if it means transferring our consciousness to a robot or computer.
At the same time, some are working on Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) that are run by autonomous software, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. DAOs and increasingly autonomous robots raise additional questions of whether these entities can become legal non-human persons who might have rights and responsibilities similar to human beings and corporations. This prospect raises further issues about who or what controls the global economy and what will be the fate of humans in various occupations. The paper concludes with a consideration of the implications of these developments for consumer research.