, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 391–405 | Cite as

Programming subjects in the regime of anticipation: Software studies and subjectivity

  • Adrian Mackenzie
Original Article


It has been argued that we increasingly live in a regime of anticipation in which likelihoods and probabilistic outcomes prevail. Many settings, ranging across finance, social media, biomedical science and military planning, rely on a semi-automated form of statistics – sometimes called ‘machine learning’ – to generate the predictions on which anticipation relies. Anticipation takes hold as these settings incorporate predictivity focused on the attributes of populations and individuals. What kinds of subjects live in the regime of anticipation? Shifts in predictive practice directly index the re-shaping of subjectivity in anticipation. Exploring the use of machine learning in social media, this article examines predictive practice of anticipation. It shows how software developers and programmers not only become agents of anticipation, but also internalise regimes of anticipation through technical practices. Shifts in programming practice hint at what it is like to be an agent of anticipation.


anticipation optimism prediction programming machine learning 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrian Mackenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentCentre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Lancaster University, Bowland NorthBailriggUK

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