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Research in Progress Seminar (RIPS)

Dr. Sara Bannerman, CRC in Communication Policy and Governance, February 27 - The Algorithmic Governance of Information and Communications

Feb 20, 2019

A Research in Progress Seminar Talk 2019

Who: Dr. Sara Bannerman
Where: Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH) 709
When: Wednesday, February 27, 2:30pm - 4pm

This paper critiques the responses of platforms and governments to fake news and other information and communications policy dilemmas by drawing on the concept of ‘algorithmic imperialism.' Evidenced in an international communication system characterized by inequalities between rich and poor nations, algorithmic imperialism, like platform imperialism, can be seen as the fusion of nation-state political interests with capitalist expansion. Used by multinational corporations and nation-states alike, algorithmic tools and techniques help to lay the groundwork for deepening and intersecting global inequalities. Algorithmic imperialism fuses the problems associated with both imperialism and algorithmic governance. Algorithms are a tool of governance that responds to various problematizations in information and communications governance, including fake news. However, the algorithmic governance of information and culture by global platforms incorporates the political problems associated with algorithmic bias, scale, and speed. The global and historical context of the global algorithmic governance of information and communications means that problems of alienation from technologized political processes, and colonial cartography, among others, are compounded globally, while the benefits (of advertising revenues and data services) accrue to a relative few. Algorithmic governance of information and communications takes place in neocolonial context, and requires a decolonial response. Drawing on these points, this paper elaborates the concept of algorithmic imperialism in relation to the algorithmic governance of information and communications governance.

Sara Bannerman is Canada Research Chair in Communication Policy and Governance and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at McMaster. She researches and teaches on communication policy and governance, and directs McMaster’s Communications Governance Observatory. She has published two books on international copyright: International Copyright and Access to Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and The Struggle for Canadian Copyright: Imperialism to Internationalism, 1842-1971 (UBC Press, 2013), as well as various peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on international copyright, privacy, and other topics in new media, traditional media, and communications theory. Bannerman is a Vice Chair of the Law Section of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR).