Call for abstracts: Postautomation? Exploring democratic alternatives to Industry 4.0 (11-13/09/2019, Sussex)

Call for abstracts: Postautomation? Exploring democratic alternatives to Industry 4.0 (An international research symposium, 11-13 September 2019, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, UK)

We are delighted to invite proposals for papers for the International Research Symposium on Post-Automation? Towards Democratic Alternatives to Industry 4.0, taking place at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, 11-13 September 2019. The Symposium will explore the idea of post-automation, critically and constructively. Theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded papers that address what a “post-automation” vantage point might bring to ongoing debates are welcomed. Papers may discuss the following issues: how societies produce and consume – in light of social concern for sustainable developments: dignified work and social justice and democratic technology; a business-led push for Industry 4.0; and the circular economy.

Post-automation is a concept in the making. The idea is sparked by the observation that, globally, groups of people are appropriating and hacking digital technologies for design, prototyping, and manufacture that were implicated initially in successive waves of automation: code, sensors, actuators, computer numerically controlled machine tools, design software, microelectronics, internet platforms, 3D scanners/printers, video, etc. Yet, in place of logics typical in automation, such as enhanced labour productivity, managerial control, economic growth, people are subverting these technologies for other purposes – human creativity, dignified work, and sustainable production and consumption – and situating these activities in non-industrial and new-industrial spaces. The Symposium will interrogate these technological turnarounds: from their human-displacing and human-disciplining origins, through to the creative experiments and prototypes today. In short, exploring post-automation possibilities.

Clues and hints about post-automation emerge in diverse places: hackerspaces, makerspaces and fablabs; citizen monitoring platforms and open science projects; open hardware platforms and grassroots innovation initiatives; new crafting practices; repair, repurposing and upcycling workshops; libraries and educational institutes opening technology to popular experimentation; citizen laboratories and DIY urbanism; workplace struggles for human-centred, democratic technology. Many of these places work through networks that cut across conventional categories; appearing simultaneously to constitute a movement and infrastructure for social relations with technology radically different to the depopulated visions of cyber-physical systems in Industry 4.0.

For more information please click here. The deadline for abstracts and bios is 20 March 2019.