What is it about?

This article cautions against an overly extenuating view of smart robotics, digital apps and online media platforms as means to effectively control the pandemic and mitigate anthropogenic climate change. Instead, policy approaches need to be informed by an extended understanding of labour relations and research on the environmental costs of various automation technologies and digital economies. To help steer post-coronavirus politics towards objectives of socio-economic and environmental justice, critical scholarship needs to address the practices and discursive strategies that continue historical legacies of extractivism and concealment.

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Why is it important?

The worldwide spread of COVID-19 accelerates the proliferation and reliance on automated, smart and digital technologies. Calls for digitally mediated assistance to contain the crisis itself coincide with broader changes to the ways that we live, learn and work with new platforms, screens and gadgets. From essential work robots to contact tracing apps to COVID-19 artificial intelligence challenges to virtual workplaces and classrooms, the key domains of the digital age are evidently thriving in the present moment. The technoscientific optimism and solutionism of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution converge with reports about recovering ecosystems and revived urban, exurban and nonurban environments.

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This page is a summary of: The cost of labour and energy in digital media and automation technologies beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, Journal of Environmental Media, August 2020, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/jem_00029_1.
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