It has never happened before. But as they say, there’s a first time for everything. And so it is that the meeting of G7 interior ministers in Ischia, Italy, on Thursday and Friday will include a substantial delegation from the cream of the crop: Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. The theme is the fight against terrorism, and the corporate leaders will sit at the same table as the government ones.
This marks a general acknowledgment of the reality that the nation-state can no longer be defined within the customary spatial and temporal bounds typical of the analog age, but rather as a small part immersed in a much larger whole. Besides the financial powers-that-be, who for a long time have had access to the critical area of the control room, nowadays the data oligarchs are also confidently striding in on the red carpet: They’re the exclusive owners of the algorithms that govern the architecture of knowledge, the custodians of our digital identities. They know that these belong to them, and not to us, mere user-subjects.