'Automation, robotics and the promise of an easier life' with Prof Judy Wajcman

Past Event

02 March 2016, 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

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Technologies are not neutral tools that emerge independently of the society that invents them. Rather, their design and use reflect as much as shape society. So what does the contemporary fascination with humanoid robots and automation more generally tell us about how our culture envisages the relationship between humans and machines?

In this lecture Professor Judy Wajcman, Visiting Professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, will examine the ways in which robotics embody the desire to save valuable time by enabling us to complete tasks ever faster and more efficiently. They are supposed to make our lives easier. Yet we hear constant laments that we are pressed for time, and that the pace of everyday life is accelerating. How do we explain this conundrum? And why is it that machines designed for today’s service economy often resemble gender stereotypes? Perhaps we need a female Doctor Who to provoke a feminist reimagining of robotics, one that challenges the future on offer from the evangelists of Silicon Valley.

This event will be streamed live on our YouTube channel
(Please note you do not need to register to watch live online)

About the speaker

Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Research Associate and Visiting Professor in the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. She was previously Professor of Sociology in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

Professor Wajcman was one of the founding contributors to the field of the social study of Science and Technology, as well as to studies of gender, work and organisations. Her books, The Social Shaping of Technology, Feminism Confronts Technology and Managing Like a Man are regarded as classics in the field. Over the last decade, she has carried out extensive research on the impact of digital technologies on the temporalities of everyday life. Her latest book, Pressed for Time, argues for a sociomaterial approach to the sociology of speed. Her work has been translated into several languages, including Chinese, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.

She has been President of the Society for Social Studies of Science, is a recipient of the William F. Ogburn Career Achievement Award from the Communications and Information Technologies Section of the American Sociological Association, and has recently been awarded a Docteur Honoris Causa from the University of Geneva.