Robots have already taken over our work, but they’re made of…

Robots have already taken over our work, but they’re made of flesh and bone

Many jobs in the modern economy have been sapped of their humanity. How should we resist the rise of ‘digital Taylorism’?

By Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger

Most of the headlines about technology in the workplace relate to robots rendering people unemployed. But what if this threat is distracting us from another of the distorting effects of automation? To what extent are we being turned into workers that resemble robots?

Take taxi drivers. The prevailing wisdom is they will be replaced by Uber drivers, who in turn will ultimately be replaced by self-driving cars. Those lauding Transport for London’s refusal to renew Uber’s licence might like to consider how, long before that company “disrupted” the industry, turn-by-turn GPS route management and dispatch control systems were de-skilling taxi drivers: instead of building up navigational knowledge, they increasingly rely on satnavs.

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