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New Geographies of Automation?

Type: Paper
Theme:
Sponsor Groups: Digital Geographies Specialty Group
Organizers: Sam Kinsley
Chairs: Sam Kinsley

Call for Submissions

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 lately gained a renewed 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. In similar if somewhat divergent ways, geographers have paid a closer attention to: the apparent automation of labour and workplaces (Bissell & Del Casino 2017); encounters with apparently autonomous ‘bots’ (Cockayne et al. 2017); the interrogation of automation in governance and surveillance across a range of scales (Amoore 2013, Kitchin & Dodge 2011); the integration of AI techniques into spatial analysis (Openshaw & Openshaw 1997); and the processing of ‘big’ data in order to discern things about, or control, people (Leszczynski 2015).

The invitation of this session is to submit 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
Boosterism and tales of automation
Gender, race and A.I
Labour and work
Autonomy, agency and law-making
Robotics and the everyday
Automation and workplace governance
Techno-bodily relations
Mobilities and materialities
Governance and surveillance

If you would also like to participate in a special issue on this topic I welcome expressions of interest.


Description

This session responds to the variously promoted or forewarned explosion of automation and the apparent transformations of culture, economy, labour and workplace we are told will ensue. Automation has lately gained a renewed 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. In similar if somewhat divergent ways, geographers have paid a closer attention to: the apparent automation of labour and workplaces (Bissell & Del Casino 2017); encounters with apparently autonomous ‘bots’ (Cockayne et al. 2017); the interrogation of automation in governance and surveillance across a range of scales (Amoore 2013, Kitchin & Dodge 2011); the integration of AI techniques into spatial analysis (Openshaw & Openshaw 1997); and the processing of ‘big’ data in order to discern things about, or control, people (Leszczynski 2015). The invitation of this session is to consider the contemporary discussions, movements and propositions of automation from a geographical perspective (in the broadest sense).


Agenda

Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Rory Hopcraft*, Royal Holloway, University of London, The Futures of Maritime Autonomy, and it's Regulation 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Sofia Shwayri*, , Machine Learning and Place: the journey from the smart phone to the automated vehicle as experienced by the blind and partially sighted 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Sam Hind*, University of Siegen, Dreams of distribution: Mobility managers and ‘seamless’ autonomy 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Debbie Hopkins*, University of Oxford, Anna Davidson, University of Huddersfield, Tim Schwanen, University of Oxford, Automating Mobile Labour 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Sam Kinsley*, University of Exeter, The Automative Imagination 15 12:00 AM

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