Natasha Lushetich

Algorithms and Medial Efficacy, The Philosophical Salon, January 2020.

Today, many urgent voices warn us of impending digital totalitarianism taking hold of neoliberal democracies: 24/7 surveillance; the increasing interlinking of medical, financial and educational records; (prejudiced) predictive analytics (Hendricks & Vestergaard 2019); and the elimination of free will (Han 2017). The problem is that, although justified, these critiques link opaque algorithmic operations to a single origin: the programmer’s intention, or, in the case of adaptive (rather than optimising) algorithms, to the algorithm’s immediate learning environment. In this short article, I suggest that the problem is both more mysterious and legally more slippery: the new enclosure arises from the ordering of time, space, objects, repetition, and contagion or from medial efficacy.

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