Cloud Ethics

Algorithms and the Attributes of Ourselves and Others

Cloud Ethics

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 27 illustrations Published: May 2020

Author: Louise Amoore

Geography, Politics > Political Theory, Science and Technology Studies

In Cloud Ethics Louise Amoore examines how machine learning algorithms are transforming the ethics and politics of contemporary society. Conceptualizing algorithms as ethico-political entities that are entangled with the data attributes of people, Amoore outlines how algorithms give incomplete accounts of themselves; learn through relationships with human practices; and exist in the world in ways that exceed their source code. In these ways, algorithms and their relations to people cannot be understood by simply examining their code, nor can ethics be encoded into algorithms. Instead Amoore locates the ethical responsibility of algorithms in the conditions of partiality and opacity that haunt both human and algorithmic decisions. To this end, she proposes what she calls cloud ethics—an approach to holding algorithms accountable by engaging with the social and technical conditions under which they emerge and operate.


“Beautifully written and richly documented, Louise Amoore's Cloud Ethics analyzes the workings of algorithms in contemporary society, from those assessing security risks to self-learning and self-programming neural nets. She draws on her extensive interviews with experts in the field to explore the nuances of algorithmic doubt and certainty. Finally, she calls for a new ethics of doubt in which the individual components of algorithms are scrutinized to open new spaces for critique that can ‘crack open’ the seemingly certain fabulations of algorithmic calculation. Technically stunning and critically informed, this book is required reading for anyone interested in how to resist the current trends toward algorithmic governmentality.” — N. Katherine Hayles, Distinguished Research Professor of English, University of California, Los Angeles

“Calling for an embrace of the contingency and doubt that is inherent to the structure and working of algorithms, this important book refuses mythologies of certainty and machinic omnipotence. Framing computation as a partial accounting, Cloud Ethics moves beyond the unproductive binaries of ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ to consider algorithms as generative of complex political possibilities.” — Caren Kaplan, author of Aerial Aftermaths: Wartime from Above


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Fall 2019 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Louise Amoore is Professor of Political Geography at Durham University and author of The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0831-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0778-4