IILJ Director Benedict Kingsbury published his article ‘Infrastructure and InfraReg: On Rousing the International Law “Wizards of Is”’ in the December 2019 issue of Cambridge Journal of International Law.
In this article, Prof. Kingsbury puts forward the idea of ‘infrastructure as regulation’ as way of ‘opening up thinking about international law and technology of all kinds’. He observes that international law ‘has come to seem somewhat maladapted for the demands and the weight technological changes have put on it’ and he ‘explores implications for reinvigorating deliberative forward-planning international law projects to address technologically driven transformation, which follow from “thinking infrastructurally”’.
Physical, informational and now digital infrastructure features throughout Nation-State consolidation and imperial extension, in war preparedness and war logistics, in resource extraction and energy capture and transit, in each quantum step in economic globalisation, in mass migrations and religious missions, in the global scaling of finance and financialisation, in the global digital economy, in artificial intelligence (AI) and robots, in economic development strategies and in China’s vast Belt and Road Initiative. International law has largely aligned with these enterprises, but has seemed not effectively to address massive anthropocenic degradation, AI, new biotech, and the human and planetary consequences of extractive capitalism. Science and technology studies, and work extending from Bruno Latour and Susan Leigh Star to governance-by-prototype and ‘new materialism’, have generated rich insights about infrastructure. These are being extended to ‘infrastructure as regulation’ (the infra-reg project). This paper explores implications for reinvigorating deliberative forward-planning international law projects to address technologically driven transformation, which follow from ‘thinking infrastructurally’.