'Grey Goo’ is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nano-technology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves. This spectacularly dystopian meme not only provides a Sci Fi analogue for the carnage reaped by capital accumulation, but also conceives of its residue – a world not definitively destroyed, but degenerated into a mass of undifferentiated, yet still active goo. The goo’s combination of inhuman self-replication and destruction is an instance of how the pop imaginary conceives of The End. Not as an interruption ushering in the transvaluation of all values, but as an infinite extension of more of the same old shit. Writers in this issue of Mute also recognise the likelihood of this gooey scenario in which crisis doesn’t automatically release us from our current conditions but may well simply deepen them. Soberly examining the general deployment of endings, from Hollywood disaster movies to anti-capitalist theory to the manipulation of climate-change panic, this issue of Mute puts an end to the endgames.
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As the financial crisis fastens its grip ever tighter around the means of human and natural survival, the age of the algorithm has hit full stride. This phase-shift has been a long time coming of course, and was undoubtedly as much a cause of the crisis as its effect, with self-propelling algorithmic power replacing human labour and judgement and creating event fields far below the threshold of human perception and responsiveness.