Ecological computationality: Cognition, recursivity, and a more-than-human political actor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Popularly, computation – incorporating hardware, software, and sensors – have rarely been understood as more-than-human and ecological, but rather as technologies under human control and knowability. In this chapter, I advocate, alongside previous work outside of geography, for conceptualising computation as ecological. Through an examination of computationality as a performative interaction with an ecology of materials supported by capacities for (re)cognition, I suggest that computation is productive of a more-than-human politics. Using vignettes from an autoethnography of the analysis and detection of malicious software, I discuss how computation both affords certain properties as much as it is generative of new interpretations of security that are threaded together across environments, big data, and human decisions in cybersecurity. Through recursive logics, enabled by computationality, computation is then engaged in shared (political) processes of choice-making that both shape, and are shaped by, various ecologies. Using cybersecurity as an exemplar, I explore how its drive to render detection at greater speed and against ‘unseen’ threats, means that it has increasingly leveraged computation’s capacity to recognize and reason whether software is malicious or not. Computation, in this collective reading, is then a political actor in-formation that reads, interprets, and acts. I use this to complicate more-than-human ecologies, as well as its application to perspectives on digital geography and cybersecurity. This is to suggest that various ‘digital’ ecologies are not simply hosted on computation, but are intertwined and are actively reworked through computationality, producing new ecologies that may be incommensurable to representational scrutiny.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Ecologies: Mediating More-than-Human Worlds
EditorsJonathan Turnbull, Adam Searle, Henry Anderson-Elliott, Eva Giraud
PublisherUniversity of Manchester Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

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