Topic: Big Brother meets Animal Farm: Surveillance implications of smart farming
Farming today relies on ever-increasing forms of data gathering, transfer and analysis. Think of autonomous tractors and weeding robots, chip-implanted animals and underground infrastructures with inbuilt sensors, or drones and satellites offering image analysis from the air. Despite this evolution, however, the social sciences have almost completely overlooked the surveillance implications of the ‘smart farm’.
This presentation offers an initial review of the main issues of power and control arising from the IT-mediated ordering and regulation-at-a-distance of the agricultural everyday. It does so with a view to outlining a broader research agenda into the (1) origins of and dynamics behind the current proliferation of smart-farming techniques (the making of smart farming), their (2) specific modalities of use (the functioning of smart farming), and the resulting implications of the systems put into action (the acting of smart farming). In turn, the smart-farming problematic is used as a prism through which to advance new conceptual understandings of contemporary ‘surveillance’ and ‘governing through code’, which moves beyond the traditional research focus on the control of humans in urban space.