Delegating Work to MachinesFor me, this is a key focus of interest. When I began mulling the use of computing and related technologies in the 80's I used to write about the importance of developing complementary skills whenever you had a machine do something. When I stumbled over the work ofLatourand others the question became more theorised at one level but also more complicated (no bad thing). The other influence in all of this from a long time ago was Joseph Weizenbaum.
For any task what humans get to do and what machines do matters a great deal. AsLangdon Winnerargued a long time ago, the distribution is always political1. But Winner's argument has been shown by a few, including Latour, Woolgarand others, to have it backwards.
Machines is a term that gestures not only to hardware (crystallised software) but also to software and, importantly, algorithms. The interest in the sociology of algorithms offers another take on what to me is the same issue.
The lack of interest in thinking about delegation of work by much of the civilised world is in stark contrast to some small populations, notably Australian aborigines and the Amish. I am sure there will be other good examples to point to.
Here are some examples.