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Algorithmic War: Everyday Geographies of the War on Terror

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Abstract: 

Technologies that deploy algorithmic calculation are becoming ubiquitous to the homeland securitization of the war on terror. From the surveillance networks of the city subway to the biometric identifiers of new forms of border control, the possibility to identify “association rules” between people, places, objects and events has brought the logic of pre-emption into the most mundane and prosaic spaces. Yet, it is not the case that the turn to algorithmic calculation simply militarizes society, nor even that we are witnessing strictly a commercialization of security. Rather, algorithmic war is one form of Foucault's sense of a “continuation of war by other means”, where the war-like architectures of self/other, here/there, safe/risky, normal/suspicious are played out in the politics of daily life. This paper explores the situated interplay of algorithmic practices across commercial, security, and military spheres, revealing the violent geographies that are concealed in the glossy techno-science of algorithmic calculation.
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Keywords: algorithm; data; risk; security; war on terror

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham, UK;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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