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On the Pending Robot Revolution and the Utopia of Human Agency
Institutionen för historia och samtidsstudier, Södertörn högskola.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5870-7541
2018 (English)In: Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research, ISSN 2000-1525, E-ISSN 2000-1525, Vol. 10, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

A hallmark of modernist thought is the belief in science and technology as a sociallyrevolutionary force. Consequently, new technologies have often been sequencedby pictures of another world to be. The birth of electronic data processing(EDP) was no exception. Provoking both hopes and anxieties, EDP and its subsequentprocess of automation has, ever since the launch of the first electronic dataprocessing machines in the early 1950’s, been a cornerstone for countless extravagantvisions of the future, such as the thought of an ever so impending “Robot Revolution”.This article builds from the basic assumption that visions of the futuredraw on notions of what at a given time is considered socially and politically desirable,unwanted or at all possible. It thus argues that the robot revolution could bestudied as a form of reified anticipation through which possible social trajectoriesare made symbolically comprehensible. Focusing on the automation debate of theSwedish 1950’s, I argue that the robot revolution serves as a symbolic articulationof the social experiences of Swedish welfare society, and that it carries both ideologicaland utopian dimensions worth examining.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping, 2018. Vol. 10, no 2
Keywords [en]
automation, robots, labour, capital, ideology, utopia, the future
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Ethnology; History; Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-364114OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-364114DiVA, id: diva2:1258111
Available from: 2018-10-24 Created: 2018-10-24 Last updated: 2018-10-24

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