The Future(s) of Unpaid Work: How Susceptible Do Experts From Different Backgrounds Think the Domestic Sphere Is to Automation
30 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2022 Last revised: 21 Jun 2022
Date Written: January 25, 2022
The “future of work” has emerged as a prominent area of future making. Regardless of how accurate predictions about automation turn out to be, they are influencing present-day policies. In this article we expand the debate to unpaid domestic work, which so far has been excluded. We report on a forecasting exercise in which 64 AI experts from the UK and Japan estimated how automatable are 17 housework and care work tasks. Unlike previous studies, we draw on sociological and feminist literature to understand how experts’ diverse backgrounds may shape their visions. On average the experts predict that 39 percent of the time spent on a domestic task is automatable within ten years. Japanese male experts are notably pessimistic about the potentials of domestic automation, a result we interpret through gender disparities in the Japanese household. Without dismissing the practice of forecasting entirely, we demonstrate how predictions are socially contingent.
Keywords: artificial intelligence, automation, qualitative forecasting, domestic work, gender
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation