Book Review: Automating the Professions?
L.A. Review of Books, March 15, 2016
17 Pages Posted: 6 May 2016 Last revised: 7 May 2016
Date Written: May 4, 2016
Richard Susskind (and his son Daniel) offer a technocratic, neoliberal, and techno-utopian outlook on the future of the professions. Thanks to these ideological priors, a persistent mistake undermines their book: they conflate the professional role with the delivery of expertise. Thus they fail to seriously address two issues at the core of professional identity. First, there is some degree of self-governance among professionals. They primarily work with clients or patients, for example, and not for bosses or shareholders. Second, the main reason they enjoy this autonomy is because they must handle intractable conflicts of values that repeatedly require thoughtful discretion, negotiation, and personal attention and responsibility. In isolation, these factors damage the Susskinds’ case; together, they prove fatal to it.
Keywords: robots, future of the legal profession, future of professions, automation, artificial intelligence
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