2022/10/01: Keynote Talk: Algorithmic Command: Digital Archives, Data Sets, and Neo-Colonial Futures


Digital images are integral to the process of deploying drones, aerial-bound surveillance systems, and lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs). Extrapolated through algorithms and other forms of machine learning, data is extracted from their binary code and re-calibrated for the purpose of predicting threats, targeting individuals, and eliminating subjects. These images, often referred to as ‘operational images’ are, in effect, instrumentalized to assert and maintain prevailing structures of power and control. To more fully understand the logic of ‘operational images’ – which have given rise to vast online archives and ‘data sets’ for training algorithms – and how they aspire to define and predetermine present-day realities, this paper will observe the degree to which their taxonomic methods and categorical foundations have been developed from the representational technologies of colonization. The inclination to calculate, measure, and quantify – the propensity, that is, to over-determine subjects as objectified, calculable, and disposable entities – discloses a causal, if not fatal, link between the historical categorizations of colonial discourse and the neo-colonial, algorithmic rationalizations of life and death that are increasingly established through drone technologies and aerial-bound surveillance.


For the talk, see here.