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Cultural Anthropology



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Algorithms -- Social aspects


Our world is densely populated by ubiquitous processors, capacious storage, and vigilant sensors. Networks of such machines are constantly measuring, packaging, storing, circulating, and operating on the world. They are busy assembling and being assembled, sharing information, and distributing their processing loads as they make decisions and enact plans. At the same time, they are refusing connections, maintaining their immune systems, performing network security, managing their boundaries, and controlling access. Human bodies move among this flexible, securitized meshwork of silicon, electricity, code, fiber optics, and data: building, maintaining, and restructuring. Their activity ensures that aesthetic, epistemological, economic, and political structures are thoroughly woven into these computational networks, tightly coupling the technical to the social as they experiment with new forms of work and life. Yet many of those who are building these systems do not seem particularly concerned with ensuring that our computational futures remain within the control, or even comprehension, of fleshy and cultural human beings. On the contrary: as they craft and maintain the datascape, the technicians of global information capitalism are busily and happily laying the groundwork for the outsourcing of many social, cultural, and economic processes to computing machines.


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