How ‘Automation’ Made America Work Harder

Computers Were Supposed to Reduce Office Labor. They Accomplished the Opposite

The world confronts “an epochal transition.” Or so the consulting firm McKinsey and Company crowed in 2018, in an article accompanying a glossy 141-page report on the automation revolution. Over the past decade, business leaders, tech giants, and the journalists who cover them have been predicting this new era in history with increasing urgency. Just like the megamachines of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th and early 20th centuries—which shifted employment away from agriculture and toward manufacturing—they say that robots and artificial intelligence will make many, if not most, modern …

How Will Robot Trucks Change American Life? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Will Robot Trucks Change American Life?

For All the Promise of Automotive Trucking, the Future of Our Freight System Has a Human Problem

Robotic trucks are beginning to roll out, carrying cargo and promises of revolutionizing freight hauling, reducing traffic, and lowering pollution. But previous waves of automation have eliminated millions of jobs …

Will COVID-19 Finally Convince Us to Do Better by Farmworkers? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Will COVID-19 Finally Convince Us to Do Better by Farmworkers?

The Current Crisis, and Longstanding Conditions, Argue for Enforcing Laws and Offering Better Protections—From Face Masks to Retirement Accounts

In California, the COVID-19 shutdown coincided with the lettuce season in the small Fresno County town of Huron. Its mayor, Rey León, has since been struggling to convey shifting safety …

Why Do So Many Nevadans Still Die on the Job?

Decades After 187 Laborers Perished at the Hoover Dam Construction Site, the State's Safety Rules Are Out of Sync With Modern Workplaces

In the span of 18 months in 2007 and 2008, Nevada was the scene of 12 worker fatalities at casino construction sites. The disasters were not small: A 7,300-pound wall …

The Sleeping Car King Who Brought America to the “Ragged Edge of Anarchy”

George Pullman’s Unbending Business Acumen Made Him a Mogul, But Also Inspired the Greatest Labor Uprising of the 19th Century

George M. Pullman literally raised Chicago from the mud. He introduced luxury to the nation’s rail lines. He even created a model company town for his workers—a feat that prompted …

Why Using Foreign Contractors Helps Prolong Foreign Wars

Farming Out Work to Non-U.S. Employees Fosters Corruption, Hampers Logistical Oversight, and Keeps the American Public Disengaged 

First it was sacks of rice. Then frozen chicken. Later, even a television. The goods were wrapped tightly in plastic bags and thrown in with the other trash in a …