Four Crises in Algorithmic Governance
Sinnreich, A. (2018). Four Crises in Algorithmic Governance. Annual Review of Law and Ethics, 26, 181-190.
11 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020
Date Written: 2018
One of the hallmarks of the present era is the increasing centrality, power and authority of algorithms as arbiters and facilitators of social action. These sophisticated equations and logical processes, most of them completely opaque to the casual observer, and some even beyond the understanding of their own creators and maintainers, are responsible for a broad range of tasks both online and off-line, determining the nature and source of the news articles we read, the identity and disposition of the people we date, and the value of the commodities we buy and sell. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, nearly every vital aspect of human culture and society is to some degree reliant on algorithms, and that the algorithms, in turn, are reliant upon an ever-expanding ocean of data produced through our interactions with them and with one another by way of them. In short, our markets, our governments, and even our intimate relationships are now fundamentally shaped and circumscribed by computer code. In the present article, I discuss four specific crises engendered by the rise of algorithmic governance of copyright, and discuss not only how they challenge our approach to laws and markets, but also how they reflect back on the larger social issues related to the sudden rise in prominence and power of the algorithm writ large. These crises may be described as: (I) the quantization of culture; (II) the convergence of institutions; (III) the expansion of scale; and (IV) the destabilization of ontology.
Keywords: algorithms, big data, internet governance, copyright, artificial intelligence
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