At Home with AI: Artificial Intelligence and Friendly Power in the Post-COVID Home Office

The global pandemic saw millions of workers shift to working from home, a situation that has now become the new normal for many. This article examines the way artificial intelligence has filtered into this sphere of labor. AI technologies are now leveraged in writing, emailing, image editing, research, and dozens of other home office tasks. And yet, contrary to depictions of AI power focused on top-down domination, AI’s permeation into this domestic space has been quieter and more collaborative. AI technologies promise to adapt to the worker, augmenting her productivity and increasing her professionalism. Drawing on Byung-Chul Han’s notion of “friendly power,” I show how AI becomes compelling to workers by being convivial, personal, and flexible. This strategy appears successful in integrating AI into new forms of labor and also key to recognize when developing critical approaches to technical power. Any alternative program must be aware of how AI technologies empathetically address the needs of the neoliberal subject.

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