New Geographies of Automation?
Sam Kinsley (University of Exeter)
This session invites papers that respond to the variously promoted or forewarned explosion of automation and the apparent transformations of culture, economy, labour and workplace we are told will ensue. Papers are sought from any and all branches of geography to investigate what contemporary geographies of automation may or should look like, how we are/could/should be doing them and to perhaps question the grandiose rhetoric of alarmism/boosterism of current debates.
Automation has been the recent focus of hyperbolic commentary in print and online. We are warned by some of the ‘rise of the robots’ (Ford 2015) sweeping away whole sectors of employment or by others exhorted to strive towards ‘fully automated luxury communism’ (Srnicek & Williams 2015). Beyond the hyperbole it is possible to trace longer lineages of geographies of automation. Studies of the industrialisation of agriculture (Goodman & Watts 1997); Fordist/post-Fordist systems of production (Harvey 1989); shifts to globalisation (Dicken 1986) and (some) post-industrial societies (Clement & Myles 1994) stand testament to the range of work that has addressed the theme of automation in geography. Indeed, in the last decade geographers have begun to draw out specific geographical contributions to debates surrounding ‘digital’ automation. From a closer attention to labour and workplaces (Bissell & Del Casino 2017) to the interrogation of automation in governance and surveillance across a range of scales (Amoore 2013, Kitchin & Dodge 2011) – the processes and experiences of automation have (again) become a significant concern for geographical research.
The invitation of this session is for papers that consider contemporary discussions, movements and propositions of automation from a geographical perspective (in the broadest sense).
- Examples of topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):
- AI, machine learning and cognitive work
- Automation and bias
- Autonomy, agency and law-making
- Automated governance
- Boosterism and tales of automation
- Economies of automation
- Material cultures of robots
- Mobilities and materialities of ‘driver-less’ vehicles
- Robotics and the everyday
- Techno-bodily relations
- Working with robots