Repackaging the Future: Artificial Intelligence, automated governance and education trade shows

22 February 2021

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly posited as a key aspect of new education governance, built into everything from business intelligence platforms to real-time online testing. In this paper we are interested in the work an education trade show does to legitimate and support the use of AI in education governance, or more precisely, automated education governance. Automated education governance covers policy practices that are exercised by automated decision-making machines, and instances in which software has a governing role within education, mainly through the application of narrow forms of Artificial Intelligence. We aim to investigate the education technology trade show not only as a set of relations, and to see what work a trade show does it do in incorporating, legitimating, and propping up AI use in education. We propose that an education technology show helps to constitute an automated education governance assemblage, and creates and legitimises certain forms of educational governing practices around data generation, analysis and use that includes AI. We outline this argument using examples of off the shelf solutions, partnerships between Australian education technology companies providing student information system products and major global companies, and as part of start-up pitches for venture capital support. We conclude the paper by examining the limits of automated governance and identifying how AI is part of power and desire in education governance.