Some Notes on Algorithms | For a Presentation I'll Give Next Month

I'm working on a short presentation that I'll give next month at the monthly member's meeting of the Lacanian Compass. The point of the presentation will be to present a potential new discourse which I'm calling the discourse of the algorithm. I've found two short bits of text that I want to use to set up my argument. The first one is from Éric Laurent's Decided Desires and Joyful Passionsin Democracy, which appeared in _Psychoanalytical Notebooks 32: Lacanian Politics and the Impasses of Democracy Today_.  

Laurent's text references the ideals of justice, dignity, autonomy, and the civic virtues of democratic societies as things that people and institutions would use to orient themselves. Today, however, people and institutions are more and more often allowing themselves, their desire, their behaviors to be oriented via algorithms.

The incarnation of this unifying rationale, before which ideals and virtues should give way, has today acquired the new form of the power of algorithms. Such algorithms claim to be able to give a description of all human activity in real time. It thus comes to be mapped out by an immensity of data - Big Data, as they call it - which makes it possible to record and to maximize everything that goes to make up behavior. The power of algorithms provides a new figure of uniformizing reason, tending permanently towards the best possible choice (p. 155). [Emphisis added by me.]

The second one comes from Marie-Hélène Brousse's book The Feminine: A Mode of Jouissance.

When Lacan, in one of his last texts, returns to the four discourses, he emphasizes that three of them are discourse of domination, and the only the analytic discourse is an exception. Science has modified the masters discourse and increased its power by means of algorithms; the hysterics discourse has conquered the social field; and the universities discourse reigns over all knowledge. The analytic discourse has vanished each time it has tried to dominate (p. 34) [Emphisis added by me.]

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