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‘Worker Data Science’ Can Teach Us How to Fix the Gig Economy

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Karen Gregory

Ideas

12.07.2021 09:00 AM ‘Worker Data Science’ Can Teach Us How to Fix the Gig Economy

Gig workers are asking to see the algorithms that govern their labor. Their fight has important lessons for creating equitable workplaces for all. Photo-Illustration: Sam Whitney; Getty Images Around the globe, gig workers are waging some of the most visible and vocal campaigns for worker rights. Across multiple platforms and countries, gig workers have been fighting for formal recognition of employment (which would allow access to benefits such as sick pay, holiday pay, pension benefits, and the right to unionize), basic safety standards, wage increases, and stable scheduling, as well as an end to processes that lead to unfair blocks and dismissals from platforms. At the heart of many of these campaigns is a demand for transparency and for platforms to offer reliable and meaningful insights into how they collect and analyze data. Gig workers are asking to be shown the algorithms that define, manage, and control the nature of the on-demand work they do.

Interest in worker data and inquiries into the “black box of the platform” stem from two key issues. First, gig and platform workers know they generate […]

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