AI, Work and Platforms
The expert practice focusing on AI, work and platforms delves into how digital technologies, including AI and digital platforms, reshape work for different people across various job types. It particularly emphasises connectivity, digital labour, algorithmic management, and the welfare of workers.
Artificial intelligence relies on human labour for tasks such as data cleaning, coding, and content classifying. This on-demand work takes place online, with payment per task, often on platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk. Coined as ‘ghost work,’ this rapidly growing, platform-based work remains largely unseen: workers lack communication with managers, feedback, and labour safeguards.
Project ‘The Ghost worker’s Well-being: An Integrative Framework
To ensure decent work conditions as automation continues to expand, knowledge about the effects of ghost work on well-being is urgently needed. The project will develop and test an integrative framework for analysing the effects of ghost work on worker’s well-being. Existing models for analysing the impact of work conditions on well-being fall short for studying ghost work, as these models assume a person has a job and most likely an employer and colleagues. Therefore, this project begins from the specificities of ghost work to synthesize theories and concepts about algorithmic control, occupational well-being, human computation, and platform labour, in order to understand how and through which mechanisms ghost work influences well-being. The project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 101003134). The project contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship in platform labour and organisational studies of algorithmic technologies. Employing a multi-methodological approach, it begins with in-depth interview-based fieldwork on ghostworkers’ work conditions. This is followed by qualitative diary studies tracking the short-term dynamics of ghost work’s effect on job conditions and wellbeing. Finally, a four-wave longitudinal panel study will explore the relationship between ghost work and wellbeing over time. The resulting integrative framework and empirical findings will capture the attention of scholars across various fields, policymakers, and industry leaders.
“It is essential to gain more insight into the human labour behind AI and to better regulate this work. First and foremost because everyone has the right to decent work, but it is also important from a quality perspective: the work of these workers has a major impact on influential algorithms, for example algorithms used for robotic surgery, recruitment software, and self-driving cars.”
Claartje Ter Hoeven