Algorithms as Political Subjects in Disruptive Technology Scenarios

Algorithms as Political Subjects in Disruptive Technology Scenarios

Arturo Luque González, María Andreina Salvatierra-Choez, Cristina Raluca Gh. Popescu
DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-2077-8.ch001
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


Algorithms take over the economy and therefore drive a large part of the global political agendas, supranational organizations, and transnational companies at will. They make life easier for people—although not for all in the same way—through processes of practicality, eliminating a large part of social automatisms to the point of making decisions that are in many cases irrefutable for humans. They configure a new reality through processes of data extractivism and à la carte regulations, shaping à la carte disruptive policies for the people and entities that configure them, which in turn generate cyclopean benefits and colossal competitive advantages among competitors. The purpose of this chapter is to find out if technology has to be linked to some political and economic system to achieve justice or if it is the current socioeconomic system that endogenously and without limitations has the capacity to administer justice, forming a customized digital ecosystem.
Chapter Preview


The economic reality has fragmented. Concepts of elements of production such as land, labor and capital have become obsolete, with speculation increasingly replacing labor. In this context of volatility and high interest rates, the study of economics becomes increasingly liquid. Information is power, the iconic mantra of the intelligence services, reflects the fact that knowledge is the key to winning in business (Korinek & Stiglitz, 2021). Knowledge is a commodity that no company or government is willing to ignore. Algorithms modify prices in real time in favor of corporate interests (Lagunas & Boggio, 2022), and, according to John McLaughlin (2023), who led the U.S. intelligence agency (CIA) in 2004, “big business has a greater impact on global society, culture, and economy than the U.S. government.” An example is the nuanced reality pointed out by former Chilean President Salvador Allende (1972) in his address to the United Nations, stating that, “the power of transnational corporations is so great that it crosses all borders”. These circumstances raise the question of whether there is a democratic regression behind the current technological progress in matters of the economy. The current economic model works with real-time information, and reality is now the ability to evidence either one situation, or its direct opposite through similar parameters. Furthermore, the market imposes the rules and behaviors to be followed, and these behaviors may not be reproducible today, thus breaking the principle of the scientific method as applied to economics. Those who tyrannize through the application of technology know this (Morozov, 2015).

Behind the scenes of technological progress are algorithms. According to Robledano (2019, p.1) “the word algorithm comes from the nickname of a ninth-century Arab mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi, who was recognized for enunciating step by step the rules for basic mathematical operations with decimals”. They are currently the driving force of business, as well as the backbone of the operation of social networks and internet search tools. These constructs of programming rules decide what is to be searched for and what is to be shown and, most perversely, they serve the interests of those who configure them, so that identical searches show results according to the benefit of those who create and control them, and not of the user who requests the information (Daza et al., 2021). The European Commission, (2023) has informed Google that “the company breached EU antitrust rules by distorting competition in the advertising technology industry ('adtech'),” evidencing the abuse of the dominant position of the big tech companies1. Certainly, they are essential elements for exercising technological domination.

The technology industry is moving forward by setting its own rules in the face of a deficit or absence of legislation. According to Ethic, (2023) “The human right to free access to information and knowledge is not such if mathematical operations aimed at profit make the decisions in our place.” To do this, they use recursive elements that establish similarities with human thought through a series of decision-making elements. Machine cognition ranges from zeros and ones (the fundamental binary systems) to interfaces that simulate the actions of human beings. Machine perception ranges from artificial vision processes based on the recognition of objects, people and their feelings, intentions and communication as expressed in faces, gestures, pupil dilation, or speech (lip reading), through to artificial hearing based on the recognition of speech expressed in commands and interactions, assisted by translation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Innovation in the Digital Age: Innovation represents the key for development, yet the development should be done sustainably in order to generate well-being and prosperity during present times as well as in the future; the digital age placed innovation among its top priorities, due to the fact that the advancement of the new technologies depend on investments in research activities (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2019b).

Public Policy: This refers to decisions and actions that a government takes when addressing public or collective issues.

Empowerment as a Result of the New Technological Revolution: The Digital Age implicates collaborative business processes and practices, and businesses increase in growth and productivity depends on entities capacity to motivate individuals to work more and become more dedicated to the goals of the companies; since people are very difficult to manage due to the particular nature of human beings, the New Technological Revolution offered companies the opportunity to use machines instead of individuals in certain areas, which gave employees the chance to leave the routine activities to specific technologies and focus on other tasks that tend to fulfil better expectations (World Economic Forum (WEF), 2022).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: