For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Automation: is it really different this time?"

by Wajcman, Judy (2017)


This review examines several recent books that deal with the impact of automation and robotics on the future of jobs. Most books in this genre predict that the current phase of digital technology will create massive job loss in an unprecedented way, that is, that this wave of automation is different from previous waves. Uniquely digital technology is said to automate professional occupations for the first time. This review critically examines these claims, puncturing some of the hyperbole about automation, robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The review argues for a more nuanced analysis of the politics of technology and provides some critical distance on Silicon Valley's futurist discourse. Only by insisting that futures are always social can public bodies, rather than autonomous markets and endogenous technologies, become central to disentangling, debating and delivering those futures.


Democracy, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Algorithmic Management, Political Theory, Robots


Wajcman, Automation

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