ABSTRACT

Everyday life is increasingly automated with the use of new and emerging digital technologies and systems. Discussion of these automated technologies is often shrouded with narratives which highlight extreme and spectacular examples, rather than the ordinary mundane realities that characterise the overwhelming majority of people's actual encounters with them. When we hear about the practical effects of automation in society, it is usually for one of two corresponding reasons. The first relates to when automated systems go disastrously wrong and receive high levels of public attention. Recent examples include the Australian ‘Robodebt’ scandal, 1 where an automated system wrongly issued debt notices to vulnerable welfare applicants, and the UK school leavers’ exam grading fiasco, 2 where students were sent algorithmically estimated exam grades much lower than those expected. The second reason that automated technologies receive high levels of publicity or promotion is when they have saved, or are predicted to save, lives: for instance, through accident prevention, medical and pharmaceutical interventions or in humanitarian domains. 3