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Miriam Poser: Seeing Like a Supply Chain: Data, Movement, and Capital in the Logistical Regime

June 1, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Supply chains are critical to understanding the global economy. As offshoring has become standard corporate practice, these networks have become head-spinningly complex, evan as just-in-time production and rapid cycles of obsolescence require that commodities be handed through the supply chain with minimal latency.

The presentation investigates SAP, the suite of software most commonly used for supply chain management. As the global economy roils and the market permits ever less downtime, SAP’s supply-chain management modules incorporate increasingly sophisticated machine-learning algorithms, turning to neural-networking models, among others, in an effort to eliminate supply-chain latency. Moreover, SAP’s particular data model transmits very specific facts even as it withholds others, resulting in the curious circumstance that Apple can deliver an iPhone to a customer with exquisite speed while also claiming (accurately) near-total ignorance about the labor conditions of its subcontractors.