There is an interesting article from 2010 over at the Low-Tech Magazine blog. The article is titled Automata: engineering for a post-oil world?. The article touches on the history of automata, the character of contemporary automata, and how together these things might suggest an alternate approach to technology and engineering in the future. It's not a thesis that is developed in detail, but there are some keen insights in this brief article. It does gives us something to think about.
Shown above is an automataon called Diamonds are for Ever by Carlos Zapata.
Here is the article titled Automata: engineering for a post-oil world?.
[ Thanks Dean! ]