This paper proposes a unified approach to studying intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) that extends current studies of design and use. Current discussion of the implication of AI and the future of work gloss four important issues: variation, power, ideology, and institutions. By a unified approach we mean a research agenda that coordinates studies of variation in use with research on power, ideology, design, and institutional change, all focused on a specific technology or set of technologies. The approach rests on the image of a technology timeline that begins with the issues of power and ideology that underwrite the promotion of intelligent technologies by firms and other stakeholders that have an interest in building and diffusing such technologies. Moving to the right the timeline encompasses studies of design, implementation, and use that pay attention to variation in how intelligent technologies occasion changes in work and employment. Finally, the unified approach extends beyond current workplace studies to consider the institutional changes that may arise as the result of how intelligent technologies are used and employs such considerations to shape the agenda of promoters and designers so that they will create technologies that better benefit society.