From Nuclear Sovereignty to Algorithmic Governance


In Prisoners of Reason I argue that the felt imperatives of nuclear security transformed our understanding of individual and collective action. Individuals transformed from citizens into consumers with sovereignty over preset menus of choice. Collective action and democratic governance was proven to be irrational unless circumscribed by giving up on optimality and accepting elements of randomness. Perhaps it was a coincidence that these new anti-democratic theories prevailed at the same time that the US nuclear security state came of age. However, I argue that the new political theory that arose during the Cold War was inseparable from the exercise of US national sovereignty through nuclear deterrence. What if our leading political theories are directly tied to maintaining the US mandate of escalation dominance and hegemony over allies? Furthermore, what if the type of logic of action in the form of strategic rationality and game theory advocates a theory that renders human intelligence indistinguishable from artificial intelligence? In this presentation I attempt to lay the groundwork for answering these questions. My overall goal will be to reveal the implications of strategic rationality for our understanding of the possibilities for action, relationships, and governance.