Diane Balley


Shaping Our Future with AI, Robotics, and Automation in the Workplace
Diane Bailey

To date, the academic and public discussion of the future of work in the face of advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation has been dominated by economists and technologists. The former seem split on whether these technological advances will disrupt our economy, while technologists largely agree such disruption is in the offing and merely differ on its timing (by the middle or end of this century). Implicit in the arguments of both groups is the notion of technological determinism, or the idea that technologies shape social and economic outcomes (and hence define progress), and that these outcomes are inevitable and universal. As a scholar of work and technology, I explore this notion and its consummation in the current case, namely that technology has, ultimately, an inalienable right to work that humans do not share. As part of this exploration, I consider the meaning of work in the face of solutions to a predicted jobless economy, such as paying the workforce dividends to stay home, that economists and technologists have put forward, as well as what it means for humans to show agency in technology choices that might lead to a different set of social and economic outcomes.


Diane E. Bailey studies technology and work in information and technical occupations. Her current research interests include engineering product design, remote occupational socialization, big data in healthcare, and ICT4D. With an expertise in organizational ethnography, Professor Bailey conducts primarily large-scale empirical studies, often involving multiple occupations, countries, and researchers. She publishes her research in organization studies, engineering, information studies, and communications journals. She is the author, with Paul Leonardi, of Technology Choices, Why Occupations Differ in Their Embrace of New Technology. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California at Berkeley.

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