STS Seminar Series – Dr. Kean Birch – ‘Automated Neoliberalism’
As the third presentation of the STS Departmental Seminar Series Dr. Kean Birch (Department of Geography and Graduate STS Program Director, York University) will give a talk on his research entitle ‘Automated Neoliberalism’:
The core contradiction in neoliberalism (studies) is that markets are organized and require significant bureaucratic coordination and governance. In light of the increasingly technoscientific nature of contemporary capitalism, it is important to examine exactly how markets are organized and their governance configured by techno-economic processes. In this paper, I argue that the entanglement of technoscience and capitalism has led to an automated neoliberalism in which markets are automated through technology platforms, personal lives are transformed into private data assets, and social relations are automated through algorithms, distributed electronic ledgers, and rating systems. Two issues arise in light of these changes: first, are markets being automated away, in that market exchange ends up no longer underpinning social order or organization? And second, does individual and social reflexivity problematize techno-economic automation, in that new platforms, data assets, ranking algorithms, etc. are all dependent on individuals telling the ‘truth’? It is worth considering the political implications of this automated neoliberalism and our reflexive enrolment in it.