Life and the Law in the Era of Data-Driven Agency
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Life and the Law in the Era of Data-Driven Agency

Edited by Mireille Hildebrandt and Kieron O’Hara

This ground-breaking and timely book explores how big data, artificial intelligence and algorithms are creating new types of agency, and the impact that this is having on our lives and the rule of law. Addressing the issues in a thoughtful, cross-disciplinary manner, leading scholars in law, philosophy, computer science and politics examine the ways in which data-driven agency is transforming democratic practices and the meaning of individual choice.
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Chapter 4: The emergent limbic media system

Julie E. Cohen

Abstract

For several hundred years, political philosophers and legal theorists have conceptualized media technologies as ‘technologies of freedom’.  Some things about that equation have not changed; certainly, access to information, the capacity for reason, self-determination, and democratic self-government are inescapably interrelated. In other respects, however, the operation of contemporary platform-based media infrastructures has begun to mimic the operation of the collection of brain structures that mid-twentieth-century neurologists christened the limbic system and that play vital roles in a number of precognitive functions, including emotion, motivation, and habit-formation. Today’s networked information flows are gradually being optimized for subconscious, affective appeal, and those choices have proved powerful in ways their designers likely did not intend or expect.

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