SGD Colloquium: Labor Automation and Robotic Life by Dr. David Bissell


Fri, 03/31/2017 - 15:30

Labor, Automation and Robotic Life

Dr. David Bissell
The Australian National University

The spectre of intensified automation, especially in light of the development of robotics and AI, is currently one of the most heated issues being debated in the sphere of contemporary labour relations. Popular discourses on the topic typically attempt to grapple with evaluating whether intensified automation will usher in either utopian or dystopian futures. However, processes of intensified automation are riven with ambivalences and complexities that are ripe for critical geographical analysis. In this paper, I show that many of the current debates on automation are characterised by a ‘new catastrophism’. In response, I argue how that the concept of the accident provides a productive counterpoint to these debates. With the help of critical social theory, I explain how the concept of the accident might open up useful potentials for thinking about automation, politics and progressive forms of socio-technical change. I present three ways of thinking about accidents each of which indicate how the material forces at play in the world are much richer and much more complex than more alarmist discourses of automation would have us believe. 
David Bissell is Senior Lecturer in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. He combines qualitative research on embodied practices with social theory to explore the social, political and ethical consequences of mobile lives. His current research draws on cultural geography and mobilities research to investigate contemporary social problems involving mobility-labour relationships. Recent and forthcoming research projects are about the impact of commuting on cities; how mobile working practices are reshaping the home; and how new forms of workplace artificial intelligence are impacting on employment futures and family mobilities.

Friday, March 31st at 3:30pm
ENR2 Building, Room S107

Refreshments starting at 3:00pm

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