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

See all articles by Vili Lehdonvirta

Vili Lehdonvirta

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Lulu P. Shi

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology

Ekaterina Hertog

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology

Nobuko Nagase

Ochanomizu University

Yuji Ohta

Ochanomizu University

Date Written: January 25, 2022

Abstract

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

Lehdonvirta, Vili and Shi, Lulu and Hertog, Ekaterina and Nagase, Nobuko and Ohta, Yuji, The Future(s) of Unpaid Work: How Susceptible Do Experts From Different Backgrounds Think the Domestic Sphere Is to Automation (January 25, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4017695 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4017695

Vili Lehdonvirta (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk

Lulu Shi

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology ( email )

Manor Road
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Ekaterina Hertog

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology ( email )

Manor Road
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Nobuko Nagase

Ochanomizu University ( email )

2-1-1 Ohtsuka
Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku 112-8610
Japan

Yuji Ohta

Ochanomizu University ( email )

2-1-1 Ohtsuka
Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku 112-8610
Japan

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