Higher Seminar: Digital Citizenship in the Age of Algorithmic Cruelty
Digital Citizenship in the Age of Algorithmic Cruelty
Dr Adi Kuntsman, Reader in Digital Politics at the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.
Wednesday 12 April, 13.15-15.00, 4A 301A
How would e-government look like from the point of view of the vulnerable, the racialised, the poor? What are the relations between racialised policing, border violence, xenophobia, the war on poor, and the steadily increasing incorporation of digital technologies into the relations between states and (non)-citizens? How can we de-center digitisation, through the lens of racial and social justice? To explore these questions, my talk will examine the violence of algorithmic decision making and other forms of digitised governance, when it comes to the management of civil life, in particular of those most vulnerable to, and/or most dependent on, the state. Situated within the UK context, I begin with a discussion of the UK Government’s ‘digital transformation’ plan, known as “digital by default”. Reading the UK Government’s idealised vision of efficient state services and happily serviced and digitally engaged citizens, against the grain, my talk will contrast celebratory narratives of e-government with the realities of growing violence inflicted by digital policing, digital welfare, and digital immigration management, on those most vulnerable to it, and often most powerless to resist. I position my discussion within the growing field of scholarship on e-governance, exploring how the interactions between the individual and the state, in areas such as public services, border management and policing, are mediated by digital platforms, on-line communication, algorithms and the AI. My analysis is deeply critical of celebratory approaches to e-governance, both due to its solutionist nature – digital technologies as the best and often the only solution to any issue – something that we unpack and critique extensively in the book --- and because it tends to prioritise efficiency to care, and bureaucracy to justice. Instead, my discussion will center a growing body of critical scholarship that attends to the relations between digital governance and the rapid expansion of digital state surveillance of the poor and the racialised, the racial and class violence of digital bureaucracy, and the militarisation of digital tools for state xenophobia and racism.
Adi Kuntsman is Reader in Digital Politics at the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Adi’s recent work focused on the politics of ‘opting out’ of digital communication; and on environmental impacts of digital technologies. Adi is the author of multiple books and edited collections, most recent including Paradoxes of Digital Disengagement: In Search of the Opt Out Button (with Esperanza Miyake, University of Westminster Press, 2022). and Digital Politics, Digital Histories, Digital Futures (with Liu Xin, Emerald 2023). Adi is currently setting up a new book series on digital technologies, sustainability and the environment, and working on a project exploring multiple methodologies and theoretical frameworks to articulate digital environmental harms.