SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

International Research Symposium. Post-Automation? Exploring Democratic Alternatives to Industry 4.0

11-13 September 2019

Science Policy Research Unit
University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

About the Symposium

We are delighted to invite proposals for papers for the International Research Symposium on Post-Automation? Towards Democratic Alternatives to Industry 4.0. The Symposium will explore the idea of post-automation, critically and constructively. Theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded papers are invited that address what a “post-automation” vantage point might bring to ongoing debates about how societies produce and consume, in light of social concern for sustainable developments, dignified work and social justice, and a business-led push for Industry 4.0 and circular economy.

Post-automation is a concept in the making. The idea is sparked by the observation that, globally, groups of people are appropriating and hacking digital technologies for design, prototyping, and manufacture that were implicated initially in successive waves of automation: code, sensors, actuators, computer numerically controlled machine tools, design software, microelectronics, internet platforms, 3D scanners/printers, video, etc.

Clues and hints about post-automation emerge in diverse places: hackerspaces, makerspaces and fablabs; citizen monitoring platforms and open science projects; open hardware platforms and grassroots innovation initiatives; new crafting practices; repair, repurposing and upcycling workshops; libraries and educational institutes opening technology to popular experimentation; citizen laboratories and DIY urbanism; workplace struggles for human-centred, democratic technology. Many of these places work through networks that cut across conventional categories; appearing simultaneously to constitute a movement and infrastructure for social relations with technology radically different to the depopulated visions of cyber-physical systems in Industry 4.0.

More information and themes

The symposium will a be conducted in a workshop format. Only those submitting papers may attend. Participants will be expected to present their paper and actively participate in critical discussion and group work sessions. For further information, please see the full outline of the Symposium.



Adrian Smith

Science Policy Research Unit

Mariano Fressoli

Fundación Cenit

Further information