Algorithmic paranoia: the temporal governmentality of predictive policing

Ethics and Information Technology 21 (1):49-58 (2019)
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Abstract

In light of the recent emergence of predictive techniques in law enforcement to forecast crimes before they occur, this paper examines the temporal operation of power exercised by predictive policing algorithms. I argue that predictive policing exercises power through a paranoid style that constitutes a form of temporal governmentality. Temporality is especially pertinent to understanding what is ethically at stake in predictive policing as it is continuous with a historical racialized practice of organizing, managing, controlling, and stealing time. After first clarifying the concept of temporal governmentality, I apply this lens to Chicago Police Department’s Strategic Subject List. This predictive algorithm operates, I argue, through a paranoid logic that aims to preempt future possibilities of crime on the basis of a criminal past codified in historical crime data.

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Bonnie Sheehey
University of Oregon

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