The philosopher Bernard Stiegler argues that the ever-increasing technologization of memory is complicit with the shift in the nature of power towards a ‘society of control’. Stiegler borrows this term from Gilles Deleuze who, in his essay of 1990 entitled ‘Postscript on a Society of Control’, himself borrowed the term from William Burroughs to describe a nightmarish extension of the logic of Foucauldian discipline that parallels a shift towards a social logic governed by the flexibility and mobility afforded by digital technologies. Rather than rely on Deleuze's definition of the term (which emphasizes the crisis of the spaces of disciplinary enclosure described by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish and their replacement by a flexible logic of ‘control’ or ‘modulation’) Stiegler argues that the society of control is characterized by the total automation of consumption. Rather than just the means of production, in the control society consumption and the network of desires and affective intensities that drive consumption have become automated.
Stiegler argues that the fundamental interdependence of memory and technology is the crucial battleground on which the transition towards the nightmarish vision of the control society is negotiated and contested. He starts from the premise that the externalization of memory in technological tools is constitutive of humanity. As Stiegler explains in his essay ‘Memory’, which introduces ideas explored in greater detail in his three-volume Technics and Time, he uses the term ‘hypomnesis’ to describe the technical exteriorization of memory, which he opposes to the act of embodied memory ‘anamnesis’.