Brian Merchant is a writer, tech journalist, and author of a bestselling book about the iPhone, The One Device. His next book is Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech (2022). He founded Automaton, a site that examines the human impact of automation, for Gizmodo. He is an editor at Motherboard, VICE’s science and technology outlet, and the founder/editor of Terraform, its online fiction site. Brian is also the co-editor of a print anthology of Terraform stories, called Terraform: Watch/Worlds/Burn (2022). His work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, Wired, the Atlantic, the LA Times, the Guardian, Slate, VICE Magazine, Fast Company, Fortune, and beyond. He lives in Los Angeles.
The Human Cost of Automation
'The robots are coming for our jobs'—thanks to artificial intelligence and automation, the ubiquitous notion lurks, back of mind, for just about every member of the modern workforce, from stock trader to warehouse stocker. But the robots aren't coming; they're already here. Businesses and institutions are beginning to adopt automated systems and AI software that are driving them to slash jobs and hours right now. Yet the phenomenon is just beginning. To understand where we're headed, this talk will examine the human impact of automation through a historical lens, beginning with the first cohort of workers to lose their jobs to automation at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution—the much maligned and much misunderstood Luddites. What happens when machines are deployed to take human jobs, when those humans have few or no other options? What can be done to stop the riots and uprisings that machines have unleashed before—and when and how might we expect to see chaos again if we fail? We'll explore the answers here.
The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone
The secret history of the invention that changed everything-and became the most profitable product in the world.
Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech
The true story of what happened the first time machines came for human jobs, when an underground network of 19th century rebels, the Luddites, took up arms against the industrialists that were automating their work—and how it explains the power, threat, and toll of big tech today.