shopping
Why Self-Checkout is and Has Always Been the Worst

Automation is often presented as an inexorably advancing force, whether it’s ushering in a threat to jobs or a promise of increased leisure or larger profits. We’re made to imagine the robots rising, increasingly mechanised systems of production, more streamlined modes of everyday living. But the truth is that automation technology and automated systems very often fail. And even when they do, they nonetheless frequently wind up stranded in our lives. Read More >>

automation
Automation is Coming for the Oil Jobs, Too

When pundits, politicians, or advocates have talked about the need to reduce fossil fuel production to combat climate change, one of the most common rejoinders has been to appeal to that most central of American concerns – it creates a lot of jobs. Oil industry backers are often touting the notion that it creates lots of decent-paying jobs. It’s also why Trump loves coal; these are generally perceived as very solid and very American jobs. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
PepsiCo Is ‘Relentless Automating’ Its Workforce and It’s Even More Dystopian Than It Sounds

Yesterday morning, news went viral that PepsiCo was spending $2.5 billion (£1.9 billion) on a plan to restructure the company that involved laying off an untold number of its workers. It was probably the phrase “relentlessly automating,” which Business Insider threw in the headline, that did the trick. Pepsi’s new CEO, Ramon Laguarta had said in an earnings call last week that Pepsi was already “relentlessly automating and merging the best of our optimised business models with the best new thinking and technologies.” Read More >>

technology
How Google, Microsoft, and Big Tech Are Automating the Climate Crisis

In a deal that made few ripples outside the energy industry, two very large but relatively obscure American companies, Rockwell Automation and Schlumberger Limited, announced a joint venture called Sensia in the US state of Texas. The new company will “sell equipment and services to advance digital technology and automation in the oilfield,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Yet the partnership has ramifications far beyond the Texas energy corridor: It’s part of a growing trend that sees major tech companies teaming with oil giants to use automation, AI, and big data services to enhance oil exploration, extraction, and production. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Will Tech Workers Rise Up Around Automation, Too?

Over the last year or two, a number of stories have documented both an ascendent drive for representation in the workplace to a growing class consciousness, inspired by labour strikes in other industries and injustices in their own ranks. As such, it occurs to me that the time might be ripe for tech workers to consider how to collectively harness, and maybe organise around, automation for their mutual benefit. Read More >>

work
The Case for an Automation-Powered 4-Day Work Week

If the robots are indeed taking our jobs, shouldn’t we all probably be working less? A movement is picking up momentum in the UK based on that very reasonable logic. On Thursday, a proposal backed by eminent British progressives like Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is making the call to transition to a four-day workweek by 2025. As the proposal’s title makes clear, it’s both “a radical and pragmatic proposal.” Read More >>

automation
This Automation Platform Helped Eliminate 40,000 Jobs, and Now It’s Available to Companies Everywhere

Over the last five years, the global management consulting company Accenture has developed proprietary automation software called the SynOps platform that it says has helped it cut 40,000 jobs within the company. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
The 8 Signs That Machine Learning Will Automate Some or All of Your Job

When we talk about how artificial threatens to impact jobs, we’re usually talking about how machine learning threatens to impact jobs. As the ‘hottest’ subfield of AI going, i.e. the one receiving the lion’s share of the research money and commercial investment, it’s pretty crucial to understand how, specifically, it’s going to roll out in offices and workplaces. Which jobs, and which tasks within those jobs, it stands to automate. Yet while a number of studies have endeavoured to examine the impact of automation writ large on the employment picture, fewer have homed in on machine learning specifically. Read More >>

technology
So You Automated Your Coworkers Out of a Job

During his first day on the job at a small 3D-modelling company, Griffith noticed that his new colleagues’ workstations were hopelessly out of date. So he took the initiative to suggest some automation upgrades to the higher-ups, who concurred. Two years later, 20 employees—some of them good friends—were out of work. Read More >>

robots
The World Bank Says Robots Aren’t Killing Jobs Yet. Don’t Listen To It.

Last week, the World Bank released its annual World Development Report, and the headline news this go round, as relayed by Bloomberg and others, is basically that “Robots Aren’t Killing Jobs.” Which, good news, if true. Read More >>

google
CES 2019: Google’s Nod to a Universal Translator Was a Smart Move in a Bid for AI Dominance

Last year was a rough one on AI’s public profile, and rightfully so. Major programs powered by machine learning, like Amazon’s recruiting software, were revealed to be biased against women. Others were dangerously ill-conceived, like Predictim’s babysitter-vetting algorithm. Even some of the biggest tech companies themselves stood up and said, look, facial recognition is out of control, please regulate us. So it makes sense that Google would lead its 2019 bid for dominance in the AI arena with a feature that drives towards one of our most widely beloved science fictional ideas: a universal translator. Read More >>

amazon
The Biggest Sign Yet That Automation Is Taking Over at Amazon

The day after Christmas, Amazon celebrated its own annual holiday tradition: announcing record-breaking sales in a very long press release that affirms its status as the largest retailer in the known universe. As such, Jeff Bezos’s Big Store said that in 2018, it surpassed its own sales records with “More Items Ordered Worldwide Than Ever Before.” Of course, Amazon announces some version of that milestone just about every year, as it continues to upend brick-and-mortar stores and march into new digital markets around the globe. Read More >>

technology
The Deadly Recklessness of the Self-Driving Car Industry

Autonomous vehicles were supposed to make driving safer, and they may yet—some of the more optimistic research indicates self-driving cars could save tens of thousands of lives a year in the US alone. But so far, a recklessness has defined the culture of the largest companies pursuing the technology—Uber, Google, and arguably even Tesla—and has led directly to unnecessary crashes, injury, even death. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
The First Cross-Country, Autonomous-Car Trip Is an Ethical Minefield

Anthony Levandowski—formerly of Google, where he reportedly contributed to at least one serious crash and did not alert the police while overseeing its self-driving car programme, and of Uber, where he allegedly imported stolen secrets from Google and was fired after being sued over it—rides again. Read More >>