Living by Algorithm: Smart Surveillance and the Society of Control

Humanities and Technology Review 34:28-69 (2015)
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Abstract

Foucault’s disciplinary society and his notion of panopticism are often invoked in discussions regarding electronic surveillance. Against this use of Foucault, I argue that contemporary trends in surveillance technology abstract human bodies from their territorial settings, separating them into a series of discrete flows through what Deleuze will term, the surveillant assemblage. The surveillant assemblage and its product, the socially sorted body, aim less at molding, punishing and controlling the body and more at triggering events of in- and ex-clusion from life opportunities. The meaning of the body as monitored by latest generation vision technologies formed from machine only surveillance has been transformed. Such a body is no longer disciplinary in the Foucauldian sense. It is a virtual/flesh interface broken into discrete data flows whose comparison and breakage generate bodies as both legible and eligible (or illegible).

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Sean Erwin
Barry University

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