Luke Munn: Exposing the Myths Behind Automation

Luke Munn — Automaton Is A Myth
Some believe automation will bring about a world without labor; others fear it could be a disaster. Munn argues that automation is a myth based on three falsehoods. The myth of complete autonomy is that machines will replace humans and take over the production. Technical solutions are not self-acting. They require human intervention to maintain and support them. The myth of universal automation is based on the idea that technology can be viewed as a force that sweeps the world. This fiction, however, ignores the local social, cultural and geographic forces that influence technologies. There is also the myth that automation will affect everyone. This is the figure of a generic human, which is at the core of automation claims. Automation will have a very uneven impact because of the social stratification in labor. Immigrants and people of color as well as women will feel it more than others. Munn explores the ways in which new technologies reconfigure (or don’t reconfigure) labor, from machine-minders in China to US warehouse pickers. Munn combines this rich collection of stories from people with insights drawn from media and cultural study to create a nuanced and localized view of the future.

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