For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Technology and the Future of Work"

by Chamberlain, James; Celentano, Denise; McBride, Keally (2022)


This chapter provides an overview of two broad sets of debates concerning contemporary work. First, the role of big tech companies like Google and Amazon within contemporary capitalism, including their deployment of labor and current proposals to better regulate and tax them. While we begin with a focus on the use of labor by big tech companies, we also consider how their effects ripple out to other sectors of the economy by virtue of the hardware and software foundations that they provide for virtually all businesses. The second set of debates that we canvas centers on the influence of automation on employment, emphasizing that automation does not merely replace labor, but also transforms it while reshaping its organization. Given the appetite of capital for technology (as a means to increase productivity and profit as well as secure competitive advantage), we explore in what areas humans currently, and perhaps always will, enjoy a comparative advantage over machines. Here we consider not only capabilities and cost, but also ethical questions surrounding the replacement of human labor with machines, especially in the domain of care work. Finally, in the conclusion, we consider the role of technology in ushering in a post-work society.


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Future of Work, Automation

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