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Augmented Exploitation: Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Work and Changes in the Labor Process

Mon, August 23, 2021 @ 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

$20.00 – $50.00

A 6 Week Close-Reading and Discussion series

Conducted with the Capital Studies Group

In the Introduction to Augmented Exploitation, co-editors Phoebe Moore and Jamie Woodcock point up two main problems with how automation and artificial intelligence are being discussed as the end of the first quarter of the 21st century draws near. Number one is the claim that Al is changing the labor process in new and unprecedented ways. But capitalists have always introduced machines in order to increase the amount of what each worker can produce in a given period of time. This is where the second problem comes in—either a certain process will be automated, or it will not—a binary that focuses on machines and not on the workers who operate them. Rather than the prospects of automation and interpretive learning replacing workers, we need rather to see that these are augmentations of the labor process.


Augmented Exploitation is divided into three areas: Making It, Faking It, and Breaking It. Going beyond platform work and the gig economy, the authors explore emerging forms of algorithmic governance and Al-augmented apps that collect data about workers and consumers in innovative ways, but also to to keep wages and worker representation under control. The contributors to Augmented Exploitation show that workers are not taking these dramatic changes lying down; they present case studies of new and exciting forms of resistance that are springing up across the globe. Join us to learn more of the reality of the impact of Artificial Intelligence (Al) on workers’ lives.

During these six sessions we will also review several articles from this year’s Socialist Register, Beyond Digital Capitalism: New Ways of Living. In particular, we will discuss “The Time of Our Lives”, Bryan Palmer’s essay on capital and temporality, and Larry Lohmann’s essay on “Interpretive Learning”. Time, always a frontier of class struggle, pushed by automation and other digital management controls that are ever-present today, is now at the forefront of contentious labor-capital relations. Lohmann stresses a number of challenges that interpretation machines have presented to movement organizing and in response argues that it is important to understand the continuities between industrial-era and digital-era value-creation rather than to only focus on the differences. He also emphasizes that the contradiction between living and dead labor that Marx identified not only persists in today’s digital economy, but also remains fundamental both to understanding crisis and to identifying possibilities for radical political change.

 The CAPITAL STUDIES GROUP has been meeting on Saturdays for more than four years. There are now several groups studying the two volumes of Capital along with an active Grundrisse reading group. We are students, activists and teachers who have dedicated ourselves to facilitating broad study of current issues of life and work during this late globalized stage of capitalist development in addition to the work we continue to do around Karl Marx’s Capital.

For residents of the US and Puerto Rico, when you purchase the book along with registering for the class there is a $10 savings. This price includes shipping via USPS Media Mail.