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Managed by an Algorithm? The rise of “on-demand working” and the “gig economy”

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Big Data underpins the operation of digital platforms which are playing an increasingly important role in managing the supply of labour and setting terms of employment in some sectors of the economy, from transport, to food delivery, to domestic repairs and cleaning. Via smartphone apps, companies such as Uber and Taskrabbit, can relay instructions, allocate tasks and monitor performance of a distributed and apparently disposable workforce. Meanwhile, online ‘crowdworking’ facilitated by platforms such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or data enrichment company CrowdFlower, breaks work down into ‘microtasks’ which can be remunerated by the minute, rather than the hour. This seminar will examine the implications of digitally-enabled “on-demand working” for labour rights and social policy.

Dr Ala’a Shehabi is a senior researcher at The Work Foundation having previously been an analyst at RAND Europe. She has also worked as a researcher and lecturer in the Middle-East and as an analyst in a hedge fund. She has been a visiting fellow at the Arab Council for Social Sciences (2013), Lund University (2014), Stanford University (2015) and has been an independent research consultant for the American University of Beirut and Amnesty International. Her research interests are in development, technology and the future of work. And has worked on projects for the European Commission, the British Academy, AT&T, Department for Culture, Media and Sport amongst others.

She has a PhD in econometrics from Imperial College London, an MSc in economics and finance from Warwick University and a BSc in economics and statistics from University College London.

Open to all but Registration is required: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/managed-by-an-algorithm-the-rise-of-on-demand-working-and-the-gig-economy-tickets-27144164928

Organised by Ethics of Big Data Research Group in collaboration with The Work Foundation and InformAll.

This talk is part of the Ethics of Big Data series.

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