Questioning Algorithms and Agency: Facial Biometrics in Algorithmic Contexts
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Algorithms have captured the imagination, the concern and the curiosity of academics, the media and the public alike. As life is progressively mediated through technology, algorithms play an increasingly important role in the management and shaping of our everyday. This chapter suggest that some of the anxieties and desires gathering around algorithms concern questions of agency and control, linked closely with whether the locus of an algorithm’s agency is perceived as human or within the technology itself. Using the example of biometrics, where algorithmic processes explicitly confuse the delineation between human and technology in complex ways, the chapter ultimately suggests that a productive approach to questions of agency may be found by thinking through the delegation of our ways of being in the world to algorithms, how they manifest and what this means for our relations with one another (including our machines) in the everyday. It suggests a heuristic for beginning discussions of algorithms in terms of aim, context and ontological and epistemological outcomes as one possible way forward.
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