Conference PaperPDF Available

The Automative Imagination (RGS-IBG 2018)

Authors:

Abstract

This paper sets out to review some of the key ways in which automation gets imagined – the sorts of cultural, economic and social forms of imagination that are drawn upon and generated when discussing how automation works and the kinds of future that may come as a result. The aim here is not to validate/invalidate particular narratives of automation – but instead to think about how they are produced and what they tell us about how we tell stories about what it means to be ‘human’, who/what has agency and what this may mean for how we think politically and spatially. To do this the concept of an ‘automative imagination’ is proposed as a means of articulating these different, sometimes competing – sometimes complementary, orientations towards automation.
The Automative Imagination
Sam Kinsley (Exeter)
RGS-IBG 2018, Cardiff
Citation
Please cite as:
Kinsley, Samuel (2018) “The Automative Imagination”. In New Geographies of
Automation? (1), RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018. Cardiff, UK. 29th
August.
This talk
1. Automative?
2. Automation
3. Progress
4. Risks
5. Geographical
Imagination
Automative Imagination
Automative?
‘automatic’
‘automated
Automative’ = the characteristics of
automation
}the subject/object of
automation
A book
Investigating how ‘automation’ is
imagined, predicted, made visible (or
not) through:
Figures
Spaces
Figures
Progress ‘Idiots’
(Stupidity)
Monsters Master/
Slave
Machines
Read more
Spaces
City
(Region)
Home Factory
(workplace)
Institution
(e.g. school)
On the move
Read more
Automation
A problem of definitions
“Something more automatic than
previously existed in that plant,
industry or location” (Bright, 1957: 6)
BBC INSIDE THE FACTORY: SAUSAGES, SERIES 4, 24 JULY 2018
A clip from BBC programme: “Inside the Factory”, series 4
(24 July 2018)
A problem of definitions
“automation is a technology quite
distinct from ‘mechanization’ and it is
concerned with replacing or aiding
human mental effort as distinct from
aiding man’s [sic.] physical effort”
(Thomas, 1969: 6)
Connotations
Consignment to redundancy
Freedom from drudgery
Increased productivity
…a mark of progress?
Progress
Automation anxiety
Whatever the future holds, the present clearly
offers a resurgence of automation anxiety
(Autor, 2015: 4)
Epoch
Epoch
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/time-to-lead-a-new-industrial-revolution-chlsfhtvl
Epoch
Epoch
https://tradevistas.csis.org/industry-4-0-trade-rules-internet-things/
The robots are coming
1986
2017
An economic story? (i)
Temptation to see automation as
reduction of labour
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs/
An old story
We are being afflicted with
a new disease of which
some readers may not yet
have heard the name, but of
which they will hear a great
deal in the years to come
namely, technological
unemployment.”
(Keynes, 1931: 325)
Risks
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/30/reality-automation-terrifying
https://twitter.com/kevin2kelly/status/721790341527896065
Jobs at risk
Following a ‘risk’
Task: Trace how the ‘fact’ of a risk of job
losses due to automation travels
through reports.
‘Risk’
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/16/automation-jobs-uk-robots
“Impacts”
The Impact of AI in
UK Constituencies:
Where will automation hit hardest?
http://futureadvocacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FutureAdvocacy-GeographicalAI.pdf
Travelling “impacts”
https://www.pwc.co.uk/economic-services/ukeo/pwcukeo-section-4-automation-march-2017-v2.pdf
Travelling “impacts”
Please cite this paper as:
Arntz, M., T. Gregory and U. Zierahn (2016), “The Risk of
Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative
Analysis”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working
Papers, No. 189, OECD Publishing, Paris.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlz9h56dvq7-en
OECD Social, Employment and Migration
Working Papers No. 189
The Risk of Automation for
Jobs in OECD Countries
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
Melanie Arntz, Terry Gregory,
Ulrich Zierahn
JEL Classification: J20, J23, J24
THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW
SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO
COMPUTERISATION?
Carl Benedikt FreyandMichael A. Osborne
September 17, 2013
.
Abstract
We exam ine how sus ceptibl e jobs are t o compute risatio n. To a s-
sess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate
the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a
Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examineex-
pected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes,
with the primary objectiveof analysing the number of jobs at risk and
the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation,
wages and educational attainment. Accor ding to our estimates, about 47
percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence
that wagesand educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relation-
shipwith an occupation’s probability of computerisation.
Keywords: Occupational Choice,Technological Change, WageInequal-
ity,Employment, Skill Demand
JELClassification: E24, J24, J31, J62, O33.
We tha nk the Ox ford U niver sity E ngin eerin g Scie nces De part mentand the Oxford Mar-
tin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology for hostingthe“MachinesandEmploy-
ment”Workshop. We are indebted to Stuart Armstrong, Nick Bostrom, Eris Chinellato, Mark
Cummins, Daniel Dewey,David Dorn , AlexFl int, Claudia Goldin, John Muellbauer, Vincent
Mueller,Paul Newman, Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, Anders Sandberg,MurrayShanahan,andKeith
Woolc ock f or the ir exc elle nt su gges tion s.
Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 1PT,UnitedKingdom,
carl.frey@oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk.
Departmentof Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX13PJ, United King-
dom,mosb@robots.ox.ac.uk.
1
“AGZ” “FO”
Travelling “impacts”
Please cite this paper as:
Arntz, M., T. Gregory and U. Zierahn (2016), “The Risk of
Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative
Analysis”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working
Papers, No. 189, OECD Publishing, Paris.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlz9h56dvq7-en
OECD Social, Employment and Migration
Working Papers No. 189
The Risk of Automation for
Jobs in OECD Countries
A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
Melanie Arntz, Terry Gregory,
Ulrich Zierahn
JEL Classification: J20, J23, J24
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/the-risk-of-automation-for-jobs-in-oecd-countries_5jlz9h56dvq7-en
“AGZ”
An economic story? (ii)
It’s not ‘roles’ but ‘tasks’ that are at risk
e.g. robotic process automation
These studies […] they assume that whole
occupations rather than single job-tasks are
automated by technology. As we argue, this might
lead to an overestimation of job automatibility, as
occupations labelled as high-risk occupations often
still contain a substantial share of tasks that are
hard to automate.” (Arntz et al. 2016: 4)
An economic story? (ii)
It’s not ‘roles’ but ‘tasks’ that are at risk
e.g. robotic process automation
These studies […] they assume that whole
occupations rather than single job-tasks are
automated by technology. As we argue, this might
lead to an overestimation of job automatibility, as
occupations labelled as high-risk occupations often
still contain a substantial share of tasks that are
hard to automate.” (Arntz et al. 2016: 4)
An economic story? (ii)
It’s not ‘roles’ but ‘tasks’ that are at risk
e.g. robotic process automation
These studies […] they assume that whole
occupations rather than single job-tasks are
automated by technology. As we argue, this might
lead to an overestimation of job automatibility, as
occupations labelled as high-risk occupations often
still contain a substantial share of tasks that are
hard to automate.” (Arntz et al. 2016: 4)
Travelling “impacts”
THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW
SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO
COMPUTERISATION?
Carl Benedikt Freyand Michael A. Osborne
September 17, 2013
.
Abstract
We exa mi ne ho w su sc ept ib le j obs are t o co mp ute ri sat io n. To as-
sess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate
the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a
Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine ex-
pected impacts of future computerisation on US labour m arketoutcomes,
with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and
the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation,
wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47
percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence
that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negativerelation-
ship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation.
Keywords: Occupational Choice, Technological Change, WageInequal-
ity, Employment, Skill Demand
JEL Classification: E24,J24, J31, J62, O33.
We th ank th e Ox fo rd Un iver si ty E ng in eer ing Sc ie nc es D ep ar tment and the Oxford Mar-
tin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology for hostingthe“MachinesandEmploy-
ment” Workshop. We areindebted to Stuart Armstrong, Nick Bostrom, Eris Chine llato, Mark
Cummins, Daniel Dewey, David Dorn, Alex Flint, Claudia Goldin, John Muellbauer, Vincent
Mueller, Paul Newman, Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, Anders Sandberg,MurrayShanahan,andKeith
Woo lcoc k for th eir ex cel lent s ugge stio ns.
Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 1PT,UnitedKingdom,
carl.frey@oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk.
Department of Engineering Science, Universityof Oxford ,Oxford, OX1 3PJ, United King-
dom, mosb@robots.ox.ac.uk.
1
https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf
“FO”
Travelling “facts”
Mobile but not immutable
(pace Latour 1999)
Travelling through a
‘landscape’ with
boundaries & barriers
(Morgan 2016)
http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subject
s/philosophy/philosophy-science/how-well-do-
facts-travel-dissemination-reliable-
knowledge?for mat=PB&isbn=9780521159586
Business of “impacts”
www.pwc.co.uk/economics
Will robots really
steal our jobs?
An international analysis of
the potential long term
impact of automation
0
Accelerating
Automation
Plan your faster, smoother journey
link link link link
Geographic Imagination
Regions (still)
http://futureadvocacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FutureAdvocacy-GeographicalAI.pdf
Robotistan
Copyright © 2013 HfS Research Ltd.
Insight. Advice. Benchmarking.
HfS Research
Collaborative Sourcing Intelligence
for G lobal Business & I T Services
Outsourcing Smart Governance Disruptive Technologies
The Knowledge Community
A Tour of Robotistan
Outsourcing's Cheapest Destination
25 April 2013
0355d550
https://www.horsesforsources.com/robotistan_011112
Fully automated luxury communism
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/18/fully-automated-luxury-communism-robots-employment
https://www.versobooks.com/books/2315-inventing-the-future
Directions
“Too often these purveyors of the future
have their backs to society, enchanted by
technological promise and blind to the
problems around them. It will require more
than robots to ensure that the future really
is different this time.”
(Wajcman, 2017: 126)
Read more
https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/05/21/408234543/will-your-job-be-done-by-a-machine
Some references
Arntz, Melanie, Gregory, Terry and Zierahn, Ulrich. (2016), "The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD
Countries: A Comparative Analysis", OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No.
189, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/5jlz9h56dvq7-en.
Autor David H. (2015) “Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace
Automation”. Journal of Economic Perspectives 29: 3-30.
Bright, J.R. (1958) Automation and Management. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.
Brynjolfsson, Eric and McAfee, Andrew. (2014) The Second Machine Age. New York: W. W. Norton.
Howlett, Peter and Morgan, Mary S. (2011) How Well Do Facts Travel? The Dissemination of Reliable
Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keynes, JM. (1931) “Economic possibilities of our grandchildren”. In: Essays in Persuasion. MacMillian,
London, pp. 321-332.
Srnicek, Nick and Williams, Alex. (2015) Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work,
London: Verso.
Thomas, Horace. (1969) Automation for Management. London: Gower Press.
Wajcman, Judy. (2017) “Automation: is it really different this time?” The British Journal of Sociology 68:
119-127.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
In this essay, I begin by identifying the reasons that automation has not wiped out a majority of jobs over the decades and centuries. Automation does indeed substitute for labor—as it is typically intended to do. However, automation also complements labor, raises output in ways that leads to higher demand for labor, and interacts with adjustments in labor supply. Journalists and even expert commentators tend to overstate the extent of machine substitution for human labor and ignore the strong complementarities between automation and labor that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for labor. Changes in technology do alter the types of jobs available and what those jobs pay. In the last few decades, one noticeable change has been a "polarization" of the labor market, in which wage gains went disproportionately to those at the top and at the bottom of the income and skill distribution, not to those in the middle; however, I also argue, this polarization is unlikely to continue very far into future. The final section of this paper reflects on how recent and future advances in artificial intelligence and robotics should shape our thinking about the likely trajectory of occupational change and employment growth. I argue that the interplay between machine and human comparative advantage allows computers to substitute for workers in performing routine, codifiable tasks while amplifying the comparative advantage of workers in supplying problem-solving skills, adaptability, and creativity.
Article
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.
Chapter
We are suffering just now from a bad attack of economic pessimism. It is common to hear people say that the epoch of enormous economic progress which characterised the nineteenth century is over; that the rapid improvement in the standard of life is now going to slow down—at any rate in Great Britain; that a decline in prosperity is more likely than an improvement in the decade which lies ahead of us.
Article
This book discusses how facts travel, and when and why they sometimes travel well enough to acquire a life of their own. Whether or not facts travel in this manner depends not only on their character and ability to play useful roles elsewhere, but also on the labels, packaging, vehicles and company that take them across difficult terrains and over disciplinary boundaries. These diverse stories of travelling facts, ranging from architecture to nanotechnology and from romance fiction to climate science, change the way we see the nature of facts. Facts are far from the bland and rather boring but useful objects that scientists and humanists produce and fit together to make narratives, arguments and evidence. Rather, their extraordinary abilities to travel well shows when, how and why facts can be used to build further knowledge beyond and away from their sites of original production and intended use.
Automation and Management
  • J R Bright
Bright, J.R. (1958) Automation and Management. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.
The Second Machine Age
  • Eric Brynjolfsson
  • Andrew Mcafee
Brynjolfsson, Eric and McAfee, Andrew. (2014) The Second Machine Age. New York: W. W. Norton.
Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
  • Nick Srnicek
  • Alex Williams
Srnicek, Nick and Williams, Alex. (2015) Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work, London: Verso.
Automation for Management
  • Horace Thomas
Thomas, Horace. (1969) Automation for Management. London: Gower Press.