Technology, virtuality and utopia: governmentality in an age of autonomic computing

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This paper attempts to identify the repercussions, for our understanding of human identity and legal subjectivity, of an increasingly statistical governance of the 'real' resulting from a strategic convergence of technological and socio-political evolutions. Epitomized by the rise of autonomic computing in the sectors of security and marketing, this epistemic change in our relation to the 'real' institutes a specific regime of visibility and intelligibility of the physical world and its inhabitants. This new perceptual regime affects a specific and arguably essential attribute of the human subject, which may be called his 'virtuality' (as opposed to 'actuality'). This 'virtuality', which acts as preserve for individuation over time, presupposes the recognition of 'différance' (being over time) and potentiality (spontaneity) as essential qualities of the human being. This virtual quality of the self, being a precondition to the experience of 'utopias' (spaces without location, according to Foucault), also conditions cultural, social and political vitality. Seeing the impacts of autonomic computing on human personality and legal subjectivity in terms of the governmental rationality these new technological artefacts implement allows for a normative evaluation of the impact of autonomic computing on both individual self-determination and collective self-government.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw, human agency and autonomic computing : the philosophy of law meets the philosophy of technology
EditorsMireille Hildebrt, Antoinette Rouvroy
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • virtuality
  • risk
  • subjectivation
  • autonomic computing
  • privacy
  • Foucault
  • Deleuze
  • governmentality
  • profiling

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