Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Robots are Not Coming

A recent article in Gizmodo, 'Robots' Are Not 'Coming for Your Job'—Management Is, explains how big business is framing the replacement of human workers by robots and other algorithmic systems to make it sound as though it’s the robots’ fault.

As the writer, Brian Merchant, points out, robots are not coming for anything. Robots are not searching online job sites intending to apply for jobs traditionally held by humans. It is management, pressured by stockholders, creditors, and competitors, that is trying to reduce expenses by replacing workers with automation. The purpose of framing the change as the work of robots, is, in Merchant’s words, to “mask the agency behind the decision to automate jobs.”

The article is worth reading. It’s good to be mindful of how framing can surreptitiously manipulate our perception of what would otherwise be straightforward but awkward facts. Unless you deliberately make yourself consciously aware that framing in going on, you will never notice it. For an explanation of the use of framing in politics, read Don’t Think of An Elephant1 and The Political Mind2 by George Lakoff. These works are written from a progressive standpoint, but like the works of Saul Alinsky, they apply to all sides of political controversies.

  1. 2004, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Junction, VT  ↩

  2. 2008, Viking, NYC, NY  ↩

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