Googlebourg: Hacking Sovereignty
Research Project on Datacenter and Territorial Sovereignty, Luxembourg 2018
Internet has been told as equally diffused, aerial or wireless, although, its supporting structure happens to be very anisotropic. The asymmetry between an accidental and fully accessible interface and the infrastructure, contingent and rationally geo-located, unveils the bipolar nature of the web. Once conceived as the tool enabling perfection in democracy, internet became an engine for extrapolating value from the emotional interaction between individuals, between people and objects. The capitalistic aspect emerged just recently, following the prosthetic expansion of personalities.The construction of an open cyberspace, a domain once populated just by scholars and militaries, runs in parallel with cycles of compressions and expansions of the computation structure; from a bunch of CPU, packed in dusty laboratories, to the conception of an architectural item, vast, climatically controlled and anti-human. The Datacentre
Cloud computing and cloud service, the monopoly of social platforms, search engine and digital shopping forced datacentres to expand in hypertrophic containers, giant boxes dimensioned to fulfil mechanic, rather than human, necessities.Forthcoming, the anatomy of the internet might encounter other drastic transformation. Edge computing, recently adopted as a strategy to enable the fruition of progressively bulkier contents, will bring to the unbundling of big data centre in smaller autonomous modules, encapsulated in the suburban areas.Since 2013, Google and its subsidiary Alphabet acquired more than 500 hectares of European soil, preparing for a future expansion of its computational infrastructure in the old continent. As Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are competing to acquire new locations, strategic for their proximity to the pre-existing fibre-optic network and for geo-energetic advantages.Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Lithuania, Ireland already opened their national doors to the datacentre run by giants of cloud computing, enclosures in which sovereignty is constantly violated and replaced with algorithmic protocols balanced to maximize profit from data extrapolation.
Lately, many cases of conflict emerged between Silicon valley’s platforms and the European institutions due to the lack of regulation regarding user profiling activity: Apple is in debt with Ireland for tax evasion, Google distorts the standard regulating European market competition, not last, Facebook became a tool in hacking political election by means of controlled diffusion of fake news. Margrethe Vestager, in charge of the European commission for the competition, confessed that “Social Media might deactivate democracy” during an interview with the Guardian. Although extreme, her statement is symptomatic of the emerging of a very deep conflict among two models of governance, one competing for the preservation of the status quo, the other for its demolition.While the war field remains ephemeral for the procedural nature of algorithms or the accidental interaction with digital interfaces, the control of physical infrastructures, datacentre and optic fibre, is undoubtedly relevant to determine the predominance of one competitor on the other.Algorithm and computation infrastructure become means of control, weapon deployed to fight a soft war. At stakes, the survival of nation state, its hybridization or its replacement with post-politic super-entities. The emerging of a new sovereign order, stratified in the codes designing digital platforms, the transformation of soil in an endless computational cog, the rush towards the virtualization of human interaction, the delamination of the nation state domain are all epiphenomena of the birth of new institutional horizons. Can a state become a machine?