Algorithmic paranoia: the temporal governmentality of predictive policing

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