A friendly reminder and invitation to submit ideas for the below proposed session for the RGS-IBG annual conference in late August in Cardiff.
My aim with this session is to convene a conversation about as wide a range of tropes about automation as possible. Papers needn’t be empirical per se or about actually existing automation, they could equally be about the rationales, promises or visions for automation. Likewise, automation has been about for a while, so historical geographies of automation, in agriculture for example, or policies for automation that have been tried and failed would be also welcome.
There all sorts of ways that ‘automation’ has been packaged in other rubrics, such as ‘smart’ things, cities and so on, or perhaps become a ‘fig leaf’ or ‘red herring’ to cover for unscrupulous activities, such as iniquitous labour practices.
I guess what I’m driving at is – I welcome any and all ideas relevant to the broad theme!
New Geographies of Automation?
Please send submissions (titles, abstracts (250 words) and author details) to me by 31st January 2018.
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):
- Promises of ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent environments
- Identity, difference and machines
- ‘Algorithmic’ places/spaces
- Activism for/against automation
- Autonomous weapons systems
- Robotics and the everyday
- Techno-bodily relations of automation
- Working with robots
- AI, machine learning and cognitive work
- Automation and bias
- Sovereignty, law-making and automated systems
- Automated governance and policing
- Boosterism and tales of automation
- The economics of automation
- Material cultures of robots
- Mobilities and materialities of ‘driver-less’ vehicles