merbs writes: Automation is too often presented as a faceless, monolithic phenomenon — but it’s a human finger that ultimately pulls the trigger. Someone has to initiate the process that automates a task or mechanizes a production line. To write or procure the program that makes a department or a job redundant. And that’s not always an executive, or upper-, or even middle management — in fact, it’s very often not. Sometimes it’s a junior employee, or a developer, even an intern.
In a series of interviews with coders, technicians, and engineers who’ve automated their colleagues out of work — or, in one case, been put in a position where they’d have to do so and decided to quit instead — I’ve attempted to produce a snapshot of life on the messy front lines of modern automation. (Some names have been changed to protect the identities of the automators.) We’ve heard plenty of forecasting about the many jobs slated to be erased, and we’ve seen the impacts on the communities that have lost livelihoods at the hands of automation, but we haven’t had many close up looks at how all this unfolds in the office or the factory floor.