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The Politics of Automated Security Infrastructure: Materialising Technical Imaginaries, Public-Private Hybrids and Discretionary Power
Main contributor
Nathaniel O’Grady (University of Manchester)
Owing to their explorations into recent technological innovations, scholars have begun to develop new conceptualisations of automation as a set of computational practices constituted not just by inscrutable algorithmically structured processes but by its development in adaptation to, and myriad effects upon, the socio-material circumstances that it is situated within and seeks to address. The paper extends these conceptual debates and elaborates upon their bearing on practices of security through interviews with the people behind LinkNYC: a new free wifi infrastructure gradually appearing across New York City. Specifically, I unpack LinkNYC’s application as a public emergency communication device that, according to its operators, has been gradually ‘automated’. The automation of technologically inflected security practices, I argue, relies on the development of organisationally situated imaginaries and their materialisation through newly introduced calculative logics and the reconfiguration of relations across a set of data platforms. The paper then outlines the political effects that follow where new understandings of automation are applied to the security-technology nexus, showing how automation redistributes authority across the public-private hybrid of organisations collectively coordinating Link infrastructure and ushers in discretionary forms of decision making beyond its oft perceived habitat within the realms of the state. (
Timo Kaerlein
Panel II | Automation and Agency
SFB 1187 Jahrestagung 2019
SFB 1187
Other Identifier
MEDIAS: 47243_05