NPR reported this morning on a traffic jam in California caused by an algorithmic glitch “accidentally summon[ing] 1,200 people to jury duty on the same morning”. An excellent reminder of the tendency of algorithmic dysfunction to manifest as physical dysfunction, and (at a relatively small scale) of the potentially disproportionate impact of glitches when they are translated from dataspace into an infrastructural system. The glitch may be as simple as having accidentally swapped the 0 indicating “do not come in” for the 1 indicating “come in”, but the resulting jam is rendered in aluminum autobodies and on asphalt corridors where it is much more difficult to clear than it was to create.

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