We use cookies for site personalization, analytics and advertising. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

Humans vs robots

Today many would describe automation as a tsunami.

The pace of change is accelerating, affecting our jobs, privacy, notions of governance and, increasingly, promising a rigid technocratic future. At times, it seems like technology itself will dictate how we live, rather than playing a subordinate, enabling role. ‘We are the robots’ becomes a bitterly ironic refrain.

At such times it is useful to remind ourselves that it is not the tech that is at fault but the motives of those who jostle to control it.

And when it is corporate players setting the agenda, that means we have a serious fight on our hands.


Sharp analysis and in-depth global coverage delivered to your door, mobile or in-box.

Plus, access the entire archive of over 500 issues with our digital edition.

Subscribe »

Included in this issue

Robots Japan: Aiko Chihira, a humanoid robot that can blink and speak developed by Toshiba Corp, staffs the information desk of a high-end department store in Tokyo.

Japan: building the future, living in the past?

How Japanese society and robots match up, by Christopher Simons.

Robotization dangers: what's the impact of robots on humans?

The age of disruption

The vision of the future we are fed will leave many of us reeling, writes Dinyar Godrej. For what?

Drug costs: Protesters march against the pricing of Sovaldi in 2014, wearing masks of John C Martin – former CEO now Executive Chairman of Gilead.

Shopping for their lives

Breakthrough hep C drugs are so costly, patients are defying the system to get them. Sophie Cousins writes.

Killer robots

Killer robots: the race for Autonomous Weapons

Noel Sharkey’s stark warning against the latest arms race.

agriculture robots

How corporate giants are automating the farm

Precision agriculture is where it’s at – according to the corporate giants. Jim Thomas inspects their plans.

Industrial robots China

Robots, not humans: official policy in China

Industrial robots are being put to work on a huge scale. Jenny Chan looks at the case of Foxconn.

Audrey Watters AI

Audrey Watters: ‘AI is ideological’

Think of computer code as new rules governing society – who gets to enforce it? asks Audrey Watters.

Automation and basic income.

Plutocrats and paupers: life after robots

If automation decimates jobs, we need better solutions than these, argues Nick Dowson.

kafala Lebanon

Sponsored abuse: migrant workers in Lebanon

Prejudice and a lack of legal protection hamper migrant workers in Lebanon. Fiona Broom writes.

dangerous dignity of war

The dangerous dignity of war

Why is bomb-dropping all it takes to appear presidential, Mark Engler asks.  

Our November film picks from around the world

I Am Not a Witch, by Rungano Nyoni; Menashe, by Joshua Z Weinstein.

Two women sheltering from the heat. A look at Uzbekistan today

A look at Uzbekistan today

In December, the country elected the successor of long-time dictator Karimov. But things might not get much better.

Past issues

Subscribe   Ethical Shop