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Automation and the Value of Work: The effects of digital automation on job displacement in western Pennsylvania

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Ricky Chen, Jiyeon Chun, Shannon Lin, and Emily Liu

Carnegie Mellon University, US

This map synthesizes the wicked problem of automation and its systemic effects on society’s values of work. Automation is second-hand with human nature; people have always been innovating and creating tools or methods that simplify necessary tasks to make time for enjoyable ones. Rounds of mass-scale industrialization accompany redistributions of jobs; automation displaces some jobs, while creating others. However, this is not always balanced, especially with the pace of digital automation. The ability and qualifications for new jobs also play a role in revealing the disparities of this wicked problem – systematically tied to history’s industrial education values, capitalism, and racism. Automation’s inverse relationship with the value of work is a wicked problem, in part because it is caused by and plays a role in the systems of other wicked problems.

These relationships with other wicked problems are highlighted through simplified feedback loops, categorized as root causes. The map also includes a summary of the history of automation, as looking into history is a first step towards finding solutions to wicked problems.

This research revealed that automation itself can not be stalled; rather it is up to evolving policies, systems, and values to provide for those adversely affected.

Reading digital automation on job displacement in west-PA

As with any system, the actions of a few (technology and policymakers) affect the lives of many, perpetrated by personal values sustained through generations of the system. Systemic change targets policy, yet policy change depends on system-wide shifts in value.

The “motherboard” graphic showcases 3D scale: the vertical axis’ building height represents the level of power, while the horizontal plane indicates the size of its respective population. Within the horizontal plane is a variety of connected subcategories.

Please read the leftwards text for historical and contextual understanding, then use the key to navigate through the map’s complex flow of cause and effects.

Map: Digital Automation and the Value of Work

To view the map detail, click the black arrow on the right. You can zoom in from the view on the new tab and explore the whole map. You can also download the full-size map from the new tab.

Posted September 2021

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Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium. rsdsymposium.org/LINK.