Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Goldenfein, "Monitoring Laws: Profiling and Identity in the World State"

Cambridge University Press recently released Monitoring Laws: Profiling and Identity in the World State (Nov. 2019), by Jake Goldenfein (Cornell University). A description from the Press:
Our world and the people within it are increasingly interpreted and classified by automated systems. At the same time, automated classifications influence what happens in the physical world. These entanglements change what it means to interact with governance, and shift what elements of our identity are knowable and meaningful. In this cyber-physical world, or 'world state', what is the role for law? Specifically, how should law address the claim that computational systems know us better than we know ourselves? Monitoring Laws traces the history of government profiling from the invention of photography through to emerging applications of computer vision for personality and behavioral analysis. It asks what dimensions of profiling have provoked legal intervention in the past, and what is different about contemporary profiling that requires updating our legal tools. This work should be read by anyone interested in how computation is changing society and governance, and what it is about people that law should protect in a computational world.
A sample of some advance praise:
'How thrilling it is to read a work that stretches ideas of what legal thought and practice have been, and what they might yet become. Monitoring Laws is such a book. In captivating, pellucid prose, Jake Goldenfein retells the story of two centuries of profiling practice - from photography to neural nets, from dossiers to data analytics - and the legal, representational and relational thinking imbricated therein. Throughout, Goldenfein shows, legal notions of identity have been modulated, challenged and reworked along with developments in surveillance technology. And those notions may yet still be, he shows, by thinking juridically with data, rather than through, against, or in spite of our contemporary informational existence. To the broad range of readers likely to find this book of interest, Goldenfein urges paying close attention to how the world and we who live here are being structured and actioned informationally, and extending our thinking about legal subjects accordingly. And once one does attend to this book’s thoughtful refiguring of the stakes of digital surveillance, it is indeed hard to look away.' -- Fleur Johns
More information is available here.

-- Karen Tani