Society of the Query #2
Session 4: Reflections on Search
Antoinette Rouvroy (BE): Algorithmic Governmentality and the End(s) of Critique
Conference Day 2 (8 November 2013)
Algorithmic personalization is characterised primarily by the two following movements: a) dissipation of all forms of transcendent ‘scale’, ‘benchmark’, or hierarchy, in favour of an immanent normativity evolving in real time; b) avoidance of any confrontation with individuals (meaning-making subjects) whose opportunities for subjectivation have become increasingly scarce. This dual movement is the consequence of the focus on relations rather than substances in contemporary statistics or data mining. To what extent are these two aspects of the ‘algorithmic personalization’ – emancipatory as they may appear with regard to ‘old’ hierarchies and with regard to ‘old’ conceptions of the subject as a stable, unitary entity – conducive to new processes of individuation? Simondon and Deleuze-Guattari show that the possibility of becoming and of processes of individuation through relations necessarily require disparities – a heterogeneity of scales, a multiplicity of regimes of existence that algorithmic personalization is continuously stifling. Algorithmic personalization, folding up individuation processes on the individual monad, tends to foreclose the emancipatory perspectives of these philosophers. In the ‘big data era’, the goal of individual and collective individuation is inseparable from an epistemic and semiotic critique of the algorithmic production of what counts as real.