UC Press is proud to be part of the Association of University Press’s eighth annual University Press Week, whose overall theme this year is Read. Think. Act.“Through this positive theme AUPresses members worldwide seek to encourage people to read the latest peer-reviewed publications about issues that affect our present and future—from politics to economics to climate change to race relations and more—and to better understand academic presses’ important contribution to these vital areas of concern.”

Premiering on PBS Frontline this evening, In the Age of AI features expert commentary from The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream author Steve Viscelli.

No matter what emotions it might stir, it is undeniable that artificial intelligence (AI) has encoded itself into our everyday lives. Whether someone asks Amazon’s Alexa persona for restaurant recommendations, a stock trader uses a collection of opaque algorithms to inform purchasing decisions, or a malcontent utilizes deepfakes to influence political communications, AI has fundamentally altered many aspects of our reality.

Like any technology, AI does not inherently posses morality or ethics; it is a tool that is dependent on its creators to wield mindfully.

One of the most pertinent potentialities before us lies at the intersection of AI and labor. The automation of physical labor has the power to bring about unimaginable increases in productivity, but at the cost of employment—employment that has long existed at the heart of American labor.

Steve Viscelli is a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream, in which he describes the contemporary environment of career long-haul truckers.

Recently, Professor Viscelli was interviewed as part of a PBS Frontline documentary entitled In the Age of AI, where he offered his perspective on the future interactions between the trucking industry and AI, including the industry’s automation and the social implications of a future in which big rigs are piloted by silicon-plated lines of code instead of bodies of flesh and blood.

Check your local listings for the film’s broadcast on November 5th, or you can stream the film after that at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/watch/