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Labour, Justice and the Mechanization of Interpretation

Larry Lohmann ()
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Larry Lohmann: The Corner House

Development, 2019, vol. 62, issue 1, 43-52

Abstract: Abstract The biggest frontier of mechanization of the past 10 years has been the automation, broadly speaking, of interpretation. This includes recognition (for example, image recognition technologies used by security services), translation (Google Translate), searching for information (search engines), understanding (‘predictive algorithms’ that learn what books or movies you will like or what kind of propaganda will appeal to you, as used by Amazon, Netflix, or the Donald Trump campaign), trust (blockchain technologies such as Bitcoin), and negotiation (‘smart contracts’ as pioneered by firms such as Ethereum). This article explores how these technologies benefit business and why they have come to prominence now, the ways they degrade and exhaust the work of both humans and nonhumans, the parallels with earlier uses of machines to discipline and extract value from labour, and the implications for social movement strategy. The article also suggests some directions for research.

Keywords: Labour; Mechanization; Technology; Interpretation; Translation; Energy; Bitcoin; Blockchain; Internet; Contract law; Algorithms; Climate change (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1057/s41301-019-00207-2

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