Workers managed by robots

We should avoid AI fetishism and futuristic science fiction narritives because it obscures our view of -real- AI problems. Josh Dzieza wrote a great and alarming article on algorithmic management systems in the workplace:

“While we’ve been watching the horizon for self-driving trucks, the robots arrived in the form of the supervisor and the middle manager. Robots are watching over hotel housekeepers, telling them which room to clean and tracking how quickly they do it. They’re managing software developers, monitoring their clicks and docking their pay if they work too slowly. They’re listening to callcenter workers, telling them what to say.”

“To satisfy the machine, workers felt they were forced to become machines themselves.”

“Companies that pursue algorithmic management all take on a similar form: a large pool of poorly paid workers at the bottom; a small group of highly paid workers who design the software that manages them at the top.”

“This is not the industrial revolution we’ve been warned about by Musk and Zuckerberg who remain fixated on the specter of job-stealing AI. This misses the ways technology is changing the experience of work.”

“Truckers will not find themselves jobless but riding along to help mostly autonomous vehicles navigate tricky city streets, earning lower pay in heavily monitored and newly de-skilled jobs.”