Future of Work

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    The idea of robots as independent machines is science fiction

The idea of robots as independent machines is science fiction

Robots and intelligent systems have gained a significant amount of attention recently. Various authors and reports detail advances in robotics and artificial intelligence and speculate on the role of humans in the robotic future. In such commentaries, robots are often presented as independent and tireless machines that are rational and efficient; they are removed from their creators and contexts […]

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    Robots are a long way off replicating human will and imagination

Robots are a long way off replicating human will and imagination

Upon checking into the Henn-na Hotel near Nagasaki in Japan, guests are greeted by an impeccably dressed, well mannered, multilingual receptionist who recognises them on sight. She’s incredibly efficient at her job, she’s always on time and has no problem staying late without overtime pay. In fact, she never asks for any pay at all. Why? She’s a robot.

The […]

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    How workers interact with computers in an automated workspace

How workers interact with computers in an automated workspace

I hired into a “Big Box” warehouse in the summer of 2006. That is what megastores, usually shaped like square or rectangular boxes, are called. In March of 2016, I, along with my advisor published an ethnographic account of working there (Elliott and Long 2016). Each day of the four-year observation period, half a million cases moved through the facility, […]

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    The value of intermediaries in the global market for cloud workers

The value of intermediaries in the global market for cloud workers

A variety of online markets have developed in recent years to facilitate trade in labour services. Upwork – previously known as oDesk-eLance (oDesk was founded in 2005 and merged with eLance in 2014) – is the largest global online market for outsourced work, with revenues of around $1 billion a year, making it the ‘behemoth of the human cloud’ […]

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    The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts – Book Review

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts – Book Review

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts. Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind. Oxford University Press. 2015.

We’ve grown accustomed to the decaying hulls of factories and abandoned shopping centres. We’ve begun to see the hollowing out of suburban office parks and we can even envision being transported by fleets of robot taxis. Yet […]

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    Historical predictions that technology would bring calamity have largely failed

Historical predictions that technology would bring calamity have largely failed

Technology is widely considered the main source of economic progress, but it has generated cultural anxiety throughout history. In a recent paper, we place today’s angst about technological change in a historical context. In particular, we study three prominent concerns: (1) Will technological progress cause a substitution of machines for labour and lead to widespread unemployment; (2) Will technology […]

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    Businesses will increasingly use robots to deal with the explosion of data

Businesses will increasingly use robots to deal with the explosion of data

The term “Robotic Process Automation” (RPA) connotes visions of physical robots wandering around offices doing the job of humans. However, the term really means automation of service tasks. Let’s think of business processes such as transferring data from multiple input sources such as email and spreadsheets to systems of record like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Here […]