We are witnessing an acceleration of the deployment of digital technologies in border regimes as well as in migratory practices. This does not necessarily make borders ‘smarter’, but it points to spiraling dynamics between border and migration practices to which digital technologies prove central. Technologies deployed for example by European countries to manage the so-called “refugee crisis” – from fences to the EuroSur drone system – have their reverse: while digital networks facilitate surveillance systems, they foster mobility and challenge border regimes at the same time. Persisting migration in defiance of ever more sophisticated border technologies demonstrate the possible detour of control systems. For our fourth issue of spheres we invite potential contributers to consider the significance of digital technologies for migration and to investigate the relation between migratory regimes and practices on the one hand and digital cultures and infrastructures on the other. (more…)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is arguably the new spectre of digital cultures. By filtering information out of existing data, it determines the way we see the world and how the world sees us. Yet the vision algorithms have of our future is built on our past. What we teach these algorithms ultimately reflects back on us and it is therefore no surprise when artificial intelligence starts to classify on the basis of race, class and gender. This odd ‘hauntology’ is at the core of what is currently discussed under the labels of algorithmic bias or pattern discrimination. By imposing identity on input data, in order to filter, that is to discriminate signals from noise, machine learning algorithms invoke a ghost story that works at two levels. First, it proposes that there is a reality that is not this one, and that is beyond our reach; to consider this reality can be unnerving. Second, the ghost story is about the horror of the past – its ambitions, materiality and promises – returning compulsively and taking on a present form because of something that went terribly wrong in the passage between one conception of reality and the next. The spectre does not exist, we claim, and yet here it is in our midst, creating fear, and re-shaping our grip on reality.