Global Governance Through the Pairing of List and Algorithm
Forthcoming in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, volume 33 (2015) doi:10.1177/0263775815599307
51 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 30, 2015
The work of global governance – including the governance of illicit activities – increasingly entails some pairing of list and algorithm. Across sectors as diverse as environmental conservation, migration, nuclear non-proliferation, humanitarian aid, counter-terrorism and more, the list-plus-algorithm is, it seems, displacing rival juridical forms on the global scale. This article probes some implications of the proliferation of this conjunctive form of ‘law’. Beginning with a typology of some types of governance work that the list-plus-algorithm is called to do on the global plane, this article tracks movements of knowledge from the arcane form of the list into an algorithmic mode, and back again. It considers, too, some difficulties with which these configurations of lawful authority may be associated and the repertoire of techniques that international lawyers typically use to address these. Among these, the endless championing of transparency will be the focus of particular critique. Precisely as the prospect of seeing definitively through these governance devices seems, for a range of reasons, almost impossible to achieve, preoccupations with transparency have intensified. But what else might making the governance work of these list-plus-algorithm configurations ‘public’ entail? This article takes up this question by focusing attention on how lists-plus-algorithms bring peoples, places and things into lawful relation.
Keywords: Lists, algorithms, big data analytics, global governance, international law, technology, law and society
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