A colleague named Max: A critical inquiry into affects when an anthropomorphised AI (ro)bot enters the workplace

Katja Einola*, Violetta Khoreva, Janne Tienari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


We offer a critical inquiry into the faltering entry of an anthropomorphised AI (ro)bot, an algorithm without physical or visual form, into the workplace in a media consultancy company. While living a digital life in the virtual world, the ro(bot) was given a human name. We highlight the unexpected consequences the humanisation of an early form of artificial intelligence (AI) has on the affects circulating between people and the new technology and between members of different organisational groups. We argue that anthropomorphising technologies such as AI influences the affective life of organisations and amplifies existing discontent between organisational members, complicating the introduction of the technology. Focusing on human–AI interaction, our analysis reveals a rift between managers who are excited and hopeful about the future capabilities of AI and employees who are frustrated and angry about its present shortcomings. We conclude that collective affects play a central role in contemporary technology-driven organisations in which the role people play in relation to the avalanche of AI technologies is often neglected.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalHuman Relations
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • AI
  • anthropomorphism
  • artificial intelligence
  • bot
  • organisation
  • organisational affects
  • robot
  • technology


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