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 10: The conservative reaction to data-driven agency

Kieron O’Hara and Mark Garnett

Abstract

Political issues pertaining to data-driven agency and the use of ‘big data’ to make decisions about people’s lives are usually seen through the lens of liberalism. A conservative examination of data-driven agency requires a different lens. This chapter adopts the perspective of evolving modernity. It considers the philosophy of three major conservative thinkers, Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville and Michael Oakeshott, in the context of the problematisation of big data contained in Mireille Hildebrandt’s Smart Technologies and the End(s) of Law. Present-day conservatives need to rethink their traditional antipathy to the state, reverting to a Burkean understanding of the public-private distinction, and also to revise views of individual agency in the face of the facilitation of collective agency by networked digital technology.

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