Sale and Service

Automated checkout and online shopping is already commonplace.

But the future of automation in the sale and service sector may be even more transformative.

With a consumer-driven economy, the sale and service sector employs the majority of workers in most industrialized countries. It has traditionally been a cushion against unemployment associated with de-industrialization. The ease of automation of many functions and the proliferation of online shopping—trends accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic—these jobs have proven to be especially susceptible to rapid transformation in addition to elimination. This sector is also more market-driven and less heavily regulated than either healthcare or the building industry, providing an important comparison for how the sector responds to disruptive forces.

AUTOWORK will examine how issues such as data mining, automated checkout, automated distribution centers, and the gig economy affect workers across different professional roles. This will include on-site observations and interviews with digital “nethnography.”

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