[Video] Is AI Contributing to Global Inequalities? My Talk at the University of Groningen (21 Nov. 2023)

On Monday, 21 November 2023, Panoptiwork.eu and the Jantina Tammes School of Digital Society, Technology, and AI invited me to give a talk at the University of Groningen (NL) on “How Artificial Intelligence Fosters Global Inequalities: A Four-Country Study on Data Work.” The talk was followed by a panel discussion with colleagues from diverse fields such as computer science, economics, political science, sociology, and media studies.

Tensions over AI’s impact on human labor dominate public debate today. The opposite question is rarely asked, however: what does human labor do to AI? As a matter of fact, labor plays an important role in the production of machine learning solutions, but it is often overlooked. AI workers aren’t just software developers and system engineers, they’re also lesser-known and less well-paid data workers. Voice assistants, self-driving cars, and facial recognition tools are created through labor-intensive processes that involve crowdworkers, clickworkers, and microworkers performing tasks like image labeling, information sorting, voice sampling, and audio transcription.

The public opinion in North America and Europe is growing aware of the precarious work arrangements and the competition among workers that data labeling activities engender. But much of this work is outsourced to Global South countries with informal economies and less-regulated labor markets, perpetuating colonial-like relationships and global economic dependencies. This presentation explores the working conditions and socio-demographic profiles of data workers across four low-, middle-, and high-income countries (Venezuela, Madagascar, Brazil, and France). The analysis is based on observations conducted by the DiPLab (Digital Platform Labor) research team from 2020 to 2023. By combining mixed-methods and primary data, we show how historical global inequalities still shape international digital labor and data supply chains.


15.30Introduction by the Jantina Tammes School & Panoptiwork
15.53Keynote lecture by prof. Antonio A. Casilli
16.10Panel discussion with: Beryl ter Haar, Endowed Prof. European & Comparative Labour Law Tatiana Llaguno Nieves, Postdoc Researcher in Political Philosophy Seonok Lee, Lecturer Minorities & Multilingualism Wike Been, Assistant Professor in Sociology of Labour Femke Cnossen, Assistant Professor in Economic Geography George Azzopardi, Assistant Professor in Computer Science Moderates: Michele Molè, PhD student in Labour law
17.10Q&A with the participants

If you’re curious to know more about the event, here is a presentation of the workshop and an interview with me on the University of Groningen’s website.

[Update] The February issue of Dutch magazine De Ingenieur features a summary on ‘click workers’.