Predictive Analytics and Governance: A New Sociotechnical Imaginary for Uncertain Futures

Christophe Lazaro, Marco Rizzi

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In an era of global sanitary, economic and ecological crisis, beliefs in the predictive power of AI progressively penetrate the legal and political spheres, in search for new ways to anticipate and govern the future. As governance strives to shape the future and, to that end, avails itself of several anticipatory tools such as law, it is critical to understand the idiosyncratic nature of the interplay between governance and algorithmic logics of prediction. The main objective of this contribution is to discuss how the association between governance and AI makes the future knowable in the present (epistemic practices), thereby shaping a programmatic way of formalizing, justifying and deploying action in the here-and-now (normative logics). We focus on three broad principles that typically inspire institutional mobilisation in the struggle to address the uncertainty and indeterminacy of the future: precaution, preemption, and preparedness. Each of these principles is affected by the use of AI technologies relying on so-called “real-time predictions”. Drawing from risk theory and science and technology studies (STS), we argue that the current convergence between algorithmic and governance logics and practices is shaping a new sociotechnical imaginary, promoting a distinctive conception of life and of the future in the age of Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Law in Context
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


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