For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Humanly Extended Automation or the Future of Work Seen through Amazon Patents"

by Delfanti, Alessandro; Frey, Bronwyn (2021)


Amazon?s projects for future automation contribute to anxieties about the marginalization of living labor in warehousing. Yet, a systematic analysis of patents owned by Amazon suggests that workers are not about to disappear from the warehouse floor. Many patents portray machines that increase worker surveillance and work rhythms. Others aim at incorporating workers? activities into machinery to rationalize the labor process in an ever more pervasive form of digital Taylorism. Patents materialize the company?s desire for a technological future in which workers act and sense on behalf of machinery, becoming its living and sensing appendages. In this new relationship, humans extend machinery and its reach. Through the work-in-progress process of reaching increasing levels of automation, Amazon develops new technical foundations that consolidate its power in the digital workplace.


Automation, Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Algorithms, Algorithmic Management, Digital Taylorism, Patents


Employment, Digital Taylorism, Algocracy, Automation

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