Hemispherical Stacks

The multipolar geopolitics of planetary computation.

Many geopolitical dynamics today revolve around computation: hardware, software, networks, and cultural interpretations of digital forms. Data, and more importantly the right to model it, is now a sovereign substance, something over which and from which sovereignty itself is claimed.  

This marks a shift toward a more multipolar geopolitics, filled by hemispheres of influence, and the multipolarization of planetary scale computation into Hemispherical Stacks. These stacks extend from energy sourcing, intercontinental transmission, and cloud platforms to addressing systems, interface cultures and different guises of the “user.”

The ascendance of high end chip manufacturing to the pinnacle of strategic plans — in the US and in the China Strait — is exemplary, and corresponds with the removal of Chinese equipment from Western networks, the removal fo Western platforms from Chinese mobile phones, and so on. But the situation extends further up the stack. The militarization of financial networks in the form of sanctions, the data driven weaponization of populism, and the reformulation of “citizen” as “private User with personal data” all testify to deeper shifts.

As cloud platforms take on roles traditionally performed by modern states, albeit crossing national borders and oceans, conversely states are evolving into cloud platforms. The geopolitical tensions that arise in the friction between these two shifts frame the prospects of planetary governance.