How Should We Handle Personal Data, Privacy, and Leisure Time in the Information Age?
On October 25th, the Seminar was led through a discussion on automation, AI, and the future of work by a fellow participant: recent Virginia Tech graduate and Information Ecosystems Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral fellow Mario Khreiche. Mario discussed his recent publication in Fast Capitalism, “The Twilight of Automation,” in which he theorizes about “the scope and rate whereby human labor will be replaced by machines” (117). Throughout both this conversation on the 25th, and during his public talk the day before, Khreiche clarified that his approach is not a luddite one; he was quick to point out that AI and automation is, first of all, far from a recent concern—historical perspectives can do much to quiet our contemporary moments of panic—and secondly, that reducing AI and automation to its flaws would be, well, reductionist. Anyone who has spent time, for example, formatting citations on a laptop could imagine how much slower and more painful the whole ordeal would be on a manual typewriter. Khreiche has done an excellent job, then, of illuminating necessary critiques about automation without ignoring its multitude of perks. Khreiche spent much of his time examining the “gig economy” or “gigconomy,” in which temporary, part-time jobs are increasingly replacing the availability of lifelong careers. Khreiche specifically mentioned a part-time earner’s potential amalgamation of Uber, TaskRabbit, Amazon delivery, and Airbnb—a combination of gigs which I have actually met several millennials currently dabbling in at the same time. For those of you asking: what’s the big deal with that? As Khreiche himself points out, “automation unfolds Read More