Skip to content

Smoothing Out Smart Tech’s Rough Edges: Imperfect Automation and the Human Fix

Author: Katzenbach, C., Pentzold, C. & Otero, P. V.
Published in: Human-Machine Communication, 7(2), 23-43
Year: 2024
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.30658/hmc.7.2

In this article, we take issue with an idea of autonomous and efficient automation that is upheld through the paradoxical conjunction of a flawed vision of the technological fix and the under-acknowledged human work required to fill in the gaps between machines and users. Our argument is based on two case studies that sit at opposite tails of automation processes: the front end of self-service checkouts and the back end of content moderation. This juxtaposition allows us to surface three themes on how the hype around automation is enabled by human interventions: the ad-hoc sociality in situated practices of automation, the capture of mundane expertise, and the inverted assistance of humans to machines. We argue that this human fix is not a temporary repair of malfunction, but a permanent and constitutive feature of automated systems.

Visit publication
Download Publication


Connected HIIG researchers

Christian Katzenbach, Prof. Dr.

Associated researcher: The evolving digital society

Explore current HIIG Activities

Research issues in focus

HIIG is currently working on exciting topics. Learn more about our interdisciplinary pioneering work in public discourse.