Debates about automation among economists and technologists suffer a debilitating blind spot. As software eats the world, they ask, and human laborers are replaced by machines, will society move toward abundance and leisure, or hierarchy and control; toward extreme inequality, or egalitarian sharing? But this technologically deterministic way of framing the question assumes that humans have no say in what, why, or how we automate.
Ghost in the Machine looks at the human future of automation, in finance, health care, law enforcement, and more. What ethical and political concerns should automation take into account, and what institutions can help shape the path of technological innovation? Frank Pasquale, a professor of law and author of the forthcoming Black Box Society, will present from his forthcoming essay for Triple Canopy on the political economy of automation, with responses from scholars Karen Gregory and Alice Marwick, followed by a discussion moderated by Triple Canopy senior editor Sam Frank.
- Karen Gregory is a lecturer in sociology at the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education, City College of New York. Her research focuses on the entanglement of contemporary spirituality, precarity, entrepreneurialism, and digital media, with an emphasis on the role of the laboring body. She is a founder of CUNY’s Digital Labor Working Group, and her writing has appeared in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Women and Performance, the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and Visual Studies.
- Alice Marwick is an assistant professor of communication and media studies and the director of the McGannon Center at Fordham University. Her work investigates online identity and consumer culture through the lenses of privacy, surveillance, consumption, and celebrity. Her first book, Status Update: Celebrity and Attention in Web 2.0 (Yale University Press, 2013), is a multiyear ethnography of the San Francisco tech industry.
- Frank Pasquale is a professor of law at the University of Maryland, a member of the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society, and an affiliate fellow of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. He frequently writes about the ethical, legal, and social implications of information technology, and speaks to attorneys, physicians, and other health professionals about these subjects. His book, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information, develops a social theory of reputation, search, and finance, and will be published by Harvard University Press in 2015.
- Sam Frank is a contributing editor of Triple Canopy.