For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Alexa, Alert Me When the Revolution Comes: Gender, Affect, and Labor in the Age of Home-Based Artificial Intelligence"

by Schiller, Amy; McMahon, John (2019)


ABSTRACTThe fantasy of automation is one of liberation from alienating tasks. Today, domestic artificial intelligence (AI) enacts this dream of frictionlessly offloading monotony. This article deploys theories of Marxist feminism, affective labor to interrogate domestic AI?s unprecedented promise of absorbing forms of labor we hardly acknowledged that we did. While these devices make the reproductive labor of the household legible as labor, we interrogate their quasi-emancipatory promise. We argue that devices such as Amazon?s Alexa or Google Home elide and reproduce the gendered and racialized dimensions of domestic labor, streamline this labor for capture by capital, and heighten the very affective dynamics they promise to ameliorate. Only critical political theories of work can illuminate the unfulfilled transformations and ongoing dominations of gender, race, and affect that saturate labor with domestic AI ? expressed, we contend, by re-articulating the framework of the ?social factory? to that of the ?social server.?


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