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date: 27 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter details the history of automation, technology released from any apparent human control. The term initially found favor in the 1950s with the first fully automated factories in America and the Soviet Union. Automation had a long prehistory, dating back to the origins of the Industrial Revolution, but intensifying with the arrival of “time and motion” studies of industrial workers by Frederick Winslow Taylor and the revolutionary new assembly lines that used Taylor’s insights in Henry Ford’s factories in the 1910s. Modern dystopias frequently react to the prospect of a future of automation, from Samuel Butler Erewhon (1872) via Zamyatin’s We (1921) to Philip K. Dick’s story “Autofac” (1955): automation becomes the token of twentieth-century projections of future society.

Keywords: science fiction, automation, automated factories, Industrial Revolution, time and motion studies, assembly line, Taylorism, Fordism, dystopia

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