Article: “Artificial Intelligence as the Latest Machine of Digital Capitalism – For Now”

In: Marx and the Robots. Networked Production, AI and Human Labour. Edited by Florian Butollo and Sabine Nuss. Translated by Jan-Peter Herrmann. Pluto Press 2022.

Marxist discourse around automation has recently become waylaid with breathless techno-pessimist dystopias and fanciful imaginations of automated luxury communism. This collection of essays by both established veterans of the field and new voices is a refreshingly sober materialist reflection on recent technological developments within capitalist production.

It covers a broad range of digital aspects now proliferating across our work and lives, including chapters on the digitalisation of agriculture, robotics in the factory and the labour process on crowdworking platforms. It looks to how 20th century Marxist predictions of the ‘workerless factory’ are, or are not, coming true, and how ‘Platform Capitalism’ should be understood and critiqued.

Through rich empirical, theoretical and historical material, this book is necessary reading for those wanting a clear overview of our digital world.

Introduction – Florian Butollo and Sabine Nuss
1. Automation: Is It Really Different This Time? – Judy Wajcman
Part I: Productive Force between Revolution and Continuity
2. ‘Voracious Appetite for Surplus Labour’ – Elena Louisa Lange
3. Industrial Revolution and Mechnisation in Marx – Dorothea Schmidt
4. A Long History of the ‘Factory Without People’ – Karsten Uhl
5. The Journey of the ‘Automation and Qualification’ Project – Frigga Haug
6. ‘Forward! And Let’s Remember’ – Christian Meyer
Part II: Robots in the Factory – Vision and Reality
7. High Tech, Low Growth: Robots and the Future of Work – Kim Moody
8. Productive Power in Concrete Terms – Sabine Pfeiffer
9. Drones, Robots, Synthetic Foods – Franza Drechsel and Kristina Dietz
Part III: Digital Work and Networked Production
10. Networked Technology and Production Networks – Florian Butollo
11. Computerisation: Software and the Democratisation of Work as Productive Power – Nadine Müller
12. Designing Work for Agility and Affect’s Measure – Phoebe V. Moore
Park IV: Platform Capitalism under Scrutiny
13. Old Power in Digital Garb? – Christine Gerber
14. The Machine System of the Twenty-first Century? – Felix Gnisa
15. Digital Labour and Prosumption under Capitalism – Sebastian Sevignani
16. Artificial Intelligence as the Latest Machine of Digital Capitalism – For Now – Timo Daum
17. Forces and Relations of Control – Georg Jochum and Simon Schaupp