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Cybernetic capitalism between self-organisation and control. On the power effects of digital process control in “Industrie 4.0”

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Cybernetic capitalism between self-organisation and control. On the power effects of digital process control in “Industrie 4.0”

Abstract

This talk discusses the effects that digital media of process control have on power relations in industry. It will present first empirical findings and theoretical reflections of a starting research project. During the last decade all highly technologized countries underwent big changes in industrial production which in Germany are discussed under the label of “Industrie 4.0”. This “digital transformation” of the industry can be summarized as a tendency towards a high level of automation that develops away from standardized mass production and towards individualized products. In order to achieve this on different levels of industrial production, from individual operations to supra organizational logistics, networked digital systems for automatic process control are introduced. My hypothesis is that along with this form of mediatization of production goes a revitalization of a cybernetic mode of control that is based on data driven feedback loops which in turn are supposed to produce self-optimizing systems. However, it would be false to reduce this cybernetic control to the presence of certain machines. Instead it is composed of (1.) a scientific discourse, e.g. cybernetics; (2.) a technological element; (3.) an organizational element, e.g. certain managerial practices. As an analytical concept that takes serious all three of these elements, I suggest Michael Burawoys concept of the “apparatuses of production”. Structured along those three elements (scientific, technological, organizational), I will present first findings on the power effects of cybernetic apparatuses of control. The concept of the apparatus is also useful to demonstrate how certain socio-material systems influence not only the power relations inside an organization, but also politico-economical structures on a macro level. To this end I introduce the concept of cybernetic capitalism. This term aims to create a unifying concept for the transformations that are induced by the cybernetic apparatuses of control on different levels, especially with respect to their effect on power relations between the affected actors.
06.10.2018 1
Cybernetic capitalism between self-organisation and control.
On the power effects of digital process control in “Industrie 4.0”
1.9.2016,
Conference on „Critical Mediatization Research. Power, inequality and social
change in a mediatized age”
Simon Schaupp
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 2
Outline
1. Analytical concept
2. Cybernetic control
3. Empirical findings
a) Immediate feedback
b) Controlled self-organization
4. Cybernetic Capitalism
06.10.2018 Simon Schaupp 3
Analytical Concept
Cybernetic control is not only technology
Scientific, technological and organizational element
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 4
Analytical Concept
Cybernetic control is not only technology
Scientific, technological and organizational element
• „apparatuses of production“ (Burawoy 1985)
Reproduction of order within an organization
• „ideological state apparatusesAlthusser (1970)
Influence of ideological and technological development on
politico-economic macro structures
06.10.2018 Simon Schaupp 5
Cybernetic control
First-order cybernetics as science of communication
and control“ (Wiener 1948)
Blackbox as performative control
Feedback loops to create homeostasis
Kanban (Taiichi Ōno) as first industrial application of
cybernetics
Self-organization as “autonomous nervous system”
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 6
Immediate Feedback
Smart workplace
“And now it´s ergonomic. He gets the
light he needs; he can access what he is
allowed to access. If it is someone else,
another light turns on, he cannot access
the computer and everything remains
closed. []Or if I say, it´s afternoon, from
now on I need motivation light, then the
computer does that, it adjusts the
motivation light.
I#1 1:03:02,by Uli Meyer, Tobias Drewlani,
David Seibt
06.10.2018 Simon Schaupp 7
Immediate Feedback
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 8
Immediate Feedback
Smart glove
“To give the worker an instant feedback on his actions, on his working
steps, so if an error occurs, if something happens, he gets informed
directly at his body. I think that’s the best aspect of wearables in this
case. Because its attached to his body, means that he does not have to
be focused on some external screen, for his working station. He has
the feedback in an instance, whether it was the right part that he picked
or the wrong part. We confirm right parts and scan it into the system by
green light and a buzzer, a tone, if something went wrong.
I#2: 0:05:23
06.10.2018 Simon Schaupp 9
Immediate Feedback
Smart glove
“To give the worker an instant feedback on his actions, on his working
steps, so if an error occurs, if something happens, he gets informed
directly at his body. I think that’s the best aspect of wearables in this
case. Because its attached to his body, means that he does not have to
be focused on some external screen, for his working station. He has
the feedback in an instance, whether it was the right part that he picked
or the wrong part. We confirm right parts and scan it into the system by
green light and a buzzer, a tone, if something went wrong.
I#2: 0:05:23
Temporal and spatial immediacy
De-mediatization through mediatization
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 10
Controlled self-organization
A: “Today we have the laboratory on the left in 22 laboratories in Saudi Arabia
and we can rap the knuckles of the teacher from here, if he messes things up.
That means we can shut down [the whole system], we can reduce voltage, we
can exchange instructional films with the students.
[]
Q: Then of course the question arises why he would accept that.Or why do
they allow this access?
A: That is very simple. [] With this support I give him the capacity to act on
his own.
I#108:07
06.10.2018 Simon Schaupp 11
Controlled self-organization
“On the one hand you can give the management more tools, []to
improve processes or to get a feeling of what is happening. And on the
other hand you give the worker more power for self-organized working.
[] Because by giving him more information you can enable him in the
end to organize his work better.
I#2 0:52:38
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 12
Controlled self-organization
“you don´t have any management-influence. Especially with the
keyword ‘lot size 1’, it is exactly about this planning organizing itself,
that you always have enough material, that the material is there in time,
that the machines are always running. Management decisions only
occur if I either have a scarcity of resources or some exceptional
situations.
I#3 0:39:26 (Interview conducted by Simon Schaupp and David Seibt)
06.10.2018 Simon Schaupp 13
Technologies
network-integrated
Decentralized physically and organizationally
Centralized by data-streams
Tightening of control
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 14
Cybernetic capitalism
“Digitalization in one sentence for me means that our
company has to learn how trading and sharing of data
becomes more valuable than the production of physical
goods. […] This is what we have to understand and what
we have to learn. This is what we have to adjust our
business models to.”
I#4: 0:03:59 (interview conducted by Uli Meyer, Tobias Drewlani and Simon
Schaupp)
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Cybernetic capitalism
=
Commodification of data
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 16
Cybernetic capitalism
=
Commodification of data
+
Cybernetic control
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Cybernetic capitalism
=
Commodification of data
+
Cybernetic control
Production, data processing and control are melting into
one process (Schaupp 2017)
06.10.2018 Munich Center for Technology in Society 18
Thank you for your attention!
Simon Schaupp
Technische Universität München
MCTS | Post/Doc Lab Reorganizing Industries
s.schaupp@tum.de
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