Humanly Extended Automation or the Future of Work Seen through Amazon Patents

Amazon’s projects for future automation contribute to anxieties about the marginalization of living labor in warehousing. In this paper Delfanti and Frey undertake a systematic analysis of patents owned by Amazon, finding that workers are not about to disappear from the warehouse floor. Many patents portray machines that increase worker surveillance and work rhythms. Others aim at incorporating workers’ activities into machinery to rationalize the labor process in an ever more pervasive form of digital Taylorism. Patents materialize the company’s desire for a technological future in which workers act and sense on behalf of machinery, becoming its living and sensing appendages.

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Abigail Gilbert


Amazonian Era

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