Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work

Speaker: Sarah Kessler
Date recorded: Sep 19, 2018
Sarah Kessler discusses her new book Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work.

Journalist Sarah Kessler discusses her new book “Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work.” Kessler shares her analysis of the perils and promises of the platform gig economy in conversation with Data & Society’s Alex Rosenblat, researcher and author of the forthcoming book “Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work” (October 23, 2018) and Aiha Nguyen, Social Instabilities in Labor Futures Engagement Lead.

One in three American workers is now a freelancer. This “gig economy”―one that provides neither the guarantee of steady hours nor benefits―emerged out of the digital era and has revolutionized the way we do business. High-profile tech start-ups such as Uber and Airbnb are constantly making headlines for the “disruption” they cause to the industries they overturn.

But “disruption” introduces new challenges to employees and job-seekers who seek to navigate platform policies, ensure workplace safety, and hedge against instability. Join us for a timely discussion on the quest to find meaningful, well-paid work as technology increasingly destabilizes and transforms the future of labor.

Sarah Kessler is a journalist based in New York City. She is the author of Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work and an editor at Quartz. Previously, she covered the gig economy as a senior writer at Fast Company and managed startup coverage at Mashable. Her reporting has been cited by The Washington Post, New York Magazine, and NPR.

The Future of Labor research initiative at Data & Society seeks to better understand emergent disruptions in the labor force as a result of data-centric technological development, with a special focus on structural inequalities. Its team recently released the report Beyond Disruption: How Tech Shapes Labor Across Domestic Work & Ridehailing–as featured in the New York Times, NPR All Things Considered, and The Nation.

Online Speech Regulation: A Comparative Perspective

Speaker: Claudia Haupt
Date recorded: Jun 13, 2018
Claudia Haupt discusses competing frameworks for regulating speech on the web.

Claudia Haupt discusses competing frameworks for regulating speech on the web. Claudia Haupt is a 2017-18 Data & Society Fellow and a resident fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. She previously taught at Columbia Law School and George Washington University Law School. Prior to that, she clerked at the Regional Court of Appeals of Cologne and practiced law at the Cologne office of the law firm of Graf von Westphalen, with a focus on information technology law.

Data Science Ethics

Speaker: Matthew L. Jones
Date recorded: Jun 13, 2018
Matthew L. Jones speaks about key illiteracies surrounding metadata, the hacking of our court system, and the possibility of ethics at scale.

Matthew L. Jones speaks about key illiteracies surrounding metadata, the hacking of our court system, and the possibility of ethics at scale. Jones is a 2017-2018 Data & Society Fellow who studies the history of science and technology, with a focus on early modern Europe and on recent information technologies. He is completing a book on computing and state surveillance of communications and is working on a historical and ethnographic account of big data, its relation to statistics and machine learning, and its growth as a fundamental new form of technical expertise. Jones is currently a James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University’s Department of History.

Alternative Data, Credit Scoring, and Financial Freedom

Speaker: Tamara K. Nopper
Date recorded: Jun 8, 2018
How credit agencies such as FICO use narratives of credit as personal responsibility to justify increased data surveillance of consumers.

Tamara K. Nopper’s talk at Future Perfect explains how credit agencies such as FICO use narratives of credit as personal responsibility to justify increased data surveillance of consumers. Reasoning that sources of “alternative data” such as social network usage are a response to discriminatory practices, these agencies are selling financial freedom at the cost of racial injustice.

Future Perfect is a gathering at Data & Society that brings together individuals from a variety of world-building disciplines (from art and fiction to architecture and science) to explore the uses, abuses, and paradoxes of speculative futures.

Tamara K. Nopper has a PhD in Sociology and her teaching and research focuses on the intersection of economic, racial, and gender inequality, with a particular emphasis on entrepreneurship, banking, globalization, urban development, and money and surveillance. Her publications have examined immigrant entrepreneurship, minority business development, the globalization of ethnic banking, and Asian American communities. Her current work looks at Korean immigrant entrepreneurship and post-Civil Rights era minority politics.

Algorithms of Oppression

Speaker: Safiya Umoja Noble
Date recorded: May 15, 2018
Safiya Umoja Noble, in a conversation with Joan Donovan, discusses topics surrounding her new book Algorithms of Oppression, looking at how racism and sexism are disseminated on the web.

In “Algorithms of Oppression”, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search engines like Google offer an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. Data discrimination is a real social problem; Noble argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.

Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online. As search engines and their related companies grow in importance—operating as a source for email, a major vehicle for primary and secondary school learning, and beyond—understanding and reversing these disquieting trends and discriminatory practices is of utmost importance.

SCL and Cambridge Analytica: Peering Inside the Propaganda Machine

Speaker: Emma Briant
Date recorded: May 9, 2018
Emma Briant discusses her research into SCL Group, the vast nexus of companies and organizations including Cambridge Analytica that constitute a modern-day propaganda machine.

Cambridge Analytica and their parent company SCL Group hit the headlines recently when, after their work on the Trump campaign, reporting exposed misuse of Facebook data linked them to ‘Brexit’, unethical conduct in international elections, and revealed their relationship to defense contracting.

Dr. Emma Briant has spent over a decade researching SCL and Cambridge Analytica. She drew on substantial contacts she developed in her work on defense propaganda (Propaganda and Counter-terrorism: Strategies for Global Change, Manchester University Press, 2015) to research an upcoming book, What’s Wrong with the Democrats? Media Bias, Inequality, and the Rise of Donald Trump (co-authored with George Washington University professor Robert M. Entman) and academic publications on the EU referendum.

In this talk, Briant discusses her analysis of the company’s activities in each of these areas, how she gained such unique access to key executives who worked on the campaigns, as well as the implications of the key evidence she recently submitted to several public inquiries in the UK.

Real Talk About Fake News

Speaker: Nabiha Syed in conversation with Claire Wardle and Joan Donovan
Date recorded: Feb 28, 2018
Nabiha Syed explores how our existing theories surrounding the first amendment are inadequate to address the current state of “fake news” and “bad” online speech.

Real Talk about Fake News | Nabiha Syed in conversation with Claire Wardle and Joan Donovan: “Fake news” isn’t exactly new: Tabloids have long hawked alien baby photos and Elvis sightings. Many have thus argued that fake news—propaganda, misinformation, and conspiracy theories—have always existed, and therefore requires no new consideration.

When we agonize over the fake news phenomenon, though, we are not talking about these kinds of fabricated stories. What we are really focusing on is why we have been suddenly inundated by false information—purposefully deployed—that spreads so quickly and persuades so effectively. This is a different conception of fake news, and it presents a question about how information operates at scale in the internet era.

In this Databite talk, Nabiha Syed explores how existing First Amendment theories fail to adequately explain our digital information economy, and how that theoretical incoherence leaves users and social media platforms ill-equipped to deal with “fake news” and other “bad” speech online. Nabiha also offers several factors to be considered in any systemic theory that can help move us beyond the troubled status quo.

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor

Speaker: Virginia Eubanks
Date recorded: Jan 17, 2018
Virginia Eubanks shows the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America.

Virginia Eubanks speaks about her most recent book Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. Eubanks systematically shows the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America. The book is full of heart-wrenching and eye-opening stories, from a woman in Indiana whose benefits are literally cut off as she lays dying to a family in Pennsylvania in daily fear of losing their daughter because they fit a certain statistical profile.

The U.S. has always used its most cutting-edge science and technology to contain, investigate, discipline and punish the destitute. Like the county poorhouse and scientific charity before them, digital tracking and automated decision-making hide poverty from the middle-class public and give the nation the ethical distance it needs to make inhuman choices: which families get food and which starve, who has housing and who remains homeless, and which families are broken up by the state. In the process, they weaken democracy and betray our most cherished national values.

Regulating informational infrastructure: Internet platforms as the new public utilities

Speaker: K Sabeel Rahman
Date recorded: Dec 6, 2017
K Sabeel Rahman discusses the emerging landscape of regulating the information platforms and ISPs that comprise a new infrastructure.

K Sabeel Rahman-The informational, economic, and political influence of the dominant tech platforms — Google, Facebook, and Amazon in particular — has become a central topic of debate. K. Sabeel Rahman argues that these firms are best understood as the core infrastructure of our 21st century economy and public sphere. The infrastructural power of these firms raises a range of policy questions. What exactly about these firms (e.g., their accumulation of data, their gatekeeping functions, their control over vital public and economic functions like retail delivery or online speech) is “infrastructural?” How should these infrastructural functions be governed and regulated, in light of both their economic and political influence?

The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement

Speaker: Andrew Guthrie Ferguson
Date recorded: Nov 2, 2017
Andrew Guthrie Ferguson shares insights and questions from his new book, The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement.

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson discusses his book, The Rise of Big Data Policing, that critically examines data-driven surveillance technologies and their legal impact on everyday policing. Andrew Guthrie Ferguson is professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law. He is a national expert on predictive policing, big data surveillance, and the fourth amendment.