The Twilight of Automation

  • Mario Khreiche Virginia Tech
Keywords: Capitalism, Platforms


The future of work has come under renewed scrutiny amidst growing concerns about automation threatening widespread joblessness and precarity. While some researchers rush to declare new machine ages and industrial revolutions, others proceed with business as usual, suggesting that specialized job training and prudent reform will sufficiently equip workers for future employment. Among the points of contention are the scope and rate whereby human labor will be replaced by machines. Inflated predictions in this regard not only entice certified technologists and neoclassical economists, but also increasingly sway leftist commentators who echo the experts' cases for ramping up the proliferation of network technologies and accelerating the rate of automation in anticipation of a postcapitalist society. In this essay, however, I caution that under the current cultural dictate of relentless self-optimization, ubiquitous economic imperatives to liquidate personal assets, and nearly unbridled corporate ownership of key infrastructures in communication, mobility, and, importantly, labor itself, an unchecked project of automation is both ill-conceived and ill fated. Instead, the task at hand is to provide a more detailed account on the nexus of work, automation, and futurizing, to formulate a challenge to the dominance of techno-utopian narratives and intervene in programs that too readily endorse the premises and promises of fully automated futures.

Author Biography

Mario Khreiche, Virginia Tech

Mario Khreiche holds a Ph.D. in Political and Cultural Thought from Virginia Tech. Currently, he is the Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow on the topic of "Information Ecosystems: Creating Data (and Absence) From the Quantitative to the Digital Age" at the University of Pittsburgh. His research explores the relation between discourses on automation and processes of gigification, taskification, and gamification in various industries. Email:


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