Skip to content

About the handbook

What does automation do with us, our environment, and our imaginaries? What do we do, conversely, with automation, its environments, and its imaginative worlds? In addition to grand narratives and technology-driven design visions about the future, what else can automation offer? The growing prevalence of automated and algorithmic systems geared towards transforming humankind’s future has raised critical questions for scholars in the social sciences and humanities. The De Gruyter Handbook of Automated Futures addresses these questions while complicating the techno-solutionist narratives that frame automation discourse in industry and policy circles. It provides a broad framework for thinking about and doing automation differently; now and in the future. This framework consolidates automated futures as an inter-/transdisciplinary research area that embeds technology development in social, historical, societal, cultural, and political contexts. In this rapidly evolving area of research, scholars are challenged to identify, interrogate, and debate the possible and, more importantly, sustainable futures of automation. In addition, it allows for the investigation of automated futures in ways that challenge and inform prediction analytics and claims about futures made by technical research and industry alike. 

For scholars and students, this handbook will be a valuable resource for imagining, realising and anticipating the possible futures of automation, while also learning about and engaging with these futures responsibly and ethically. By inviting readers to experiment and play with and within automation agendas as opposed to resisting them, this handbook offers a constructive new agenda that is both critical and engaging. Rather than being assigned a conventional role of evaluating already developed technologies, the handbook demonstrates how the social sciences and humanities are relevant and valuable to designing and governing people- and planet-centric sociotechnical systems and the transition towards them. In this way, we want to make a positive contribution to societal change by demonstrating by example how to engage automation as a technology with social dimensions, thus broadening the scope of development beyond the relatively narrow set of interests currently leading future-making processes of this nature.


The De Gruyter Handbook of Automated Futures provides a comprehensive, accessible, and thought-provoking guide to imaginaries of and interactions with automated futures across different areas and disciplines, along with critical explorations of their potential impact. By examining key issues, concepts, theories, and research in this emerging field, the handbook explores ways to engage with automated futures as sites for interaction and methods to shape their impact in a sustainable way. We welcome contributions that address topics such as:

  • In what ways do historical ideas about automated futures manifest themselves in the present?
  • On what level are automated futures envisioned and in what kinds of narratives are they presented?
  • In what ways do people “do” automation in their everyday lives, and what kinds of tinkering, adjusting, and repairing do they use to create desirable futures?
  • What are the potential ways to investigate the automated futures in interdisciplinary collaborations involving experimental, testing and design practice?
  • What are the main ethical issues involved in exploring automated futures, and how can those issues be re-imagined to support sustainable research and development?
  • How can we re-imagine automated futures through collaborative and interventional research that proposes viable alternative ways of understanding future automation in innovation, policy, and education?