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The Explainability Turn

I want to explore what is at stake when we ask: what the effects of the disruptive technologies, networks and values that are hidden within the black box of a computational system? In this paper I aim to explore how, when we ask this question – which calls for an explanation – we inadvertently highlight the contradictions within the historically specific form of computation that emerges in late capitalism. These contradictions are continually suppressed in computational societies but generate systemic problems borne out of the need for the political economy of software to be obscured so that its functions and operations and the value they generate are hidden from public knowledge. Why should this fundamental computational political economy be concealed? One of the reasons is that an information society requires a form of public justification in order to legitimate it as an accumulation regime and further to maintain trust. Trust is a fundamental requirement of any system, and has to b…

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