In: Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679)
Author: Yasco Horsman

This chapter focuses on a new type of actor that is playing a growing role in the political and military conflicts of our contemporary world: namely, machines operated by algorithms – or software – that are programmed to make independent decisions and to act on those decisions. The emergence and increasing prominence of machines that can make semi-autonomous decisions pose political, legal and moral problems as well as a fundamental epistemological question: how do we make sense of actors that we can decipher, decode and read without fully comprehending them. My essay proposes to turn to two early reflections on the “cybernetic problem,” Jacques Lacan’s seminar on cybernetics and Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the Eichmann case in order to shed light on our contemporary situation.

In: Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines