The Emergent Limbic Media System

Life and the Law in the Era of Data-Driven Agency, eds. Mireille Hildebrandt & Kieron O'Hara (Edward Elgar, Forthcoming)

16 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2019

See all articles by Julie E. Cohen

Julie E. Cohen

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: March 13, 2019

Abstract

For several hundred years, political philosophers and legal theorists have conceptualized media technologies as ‘technologies of freedom’. Some things about that equation have not changed; certainly, access to information, the capacity for reason, self-determination, and democratic self-government are inescapably interrelated. In other respects, however, the operation of contemporary platform-based media infrastructures has begun to mimic the operation of the collection of brain structures that mid-twentieth-century neurologists christened the limbic system and that play vital roles in a number of precognitive functions, including emotion, motivation, and habit-formation. Today’s networked information flows are gradually being optimized for subconscious, affective appeal, and those choices have proved powerful in ways their designers likely did not intend or expect.

Keywords: media, platforms, information, cascades, polarization, reputation, surveillance, microtargeting

JEL Classification: L82, L86, Z10, Z19

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Julie E., The Emergent Limbic Media System (March 13, 2019). Life and the Law in the Era of Data-Driven Agency, eds. Mireille Hildebrandt & Kieron O'Hara (Edward Elgar, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3351918 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3351918

Julie E. Cohen (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9871 (Phone)
202-662-9411 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/jec/

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