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Blog Posts (49)

  • Innovations for Good Work

    Panel for the launch of the Royal Society of Art's Good Work Guild on Innovations for Good Work. With Laetitia Vitaud, writer and speaker on the future of work; Thorben Albrecht, policy director, IG Metall; Nchimunya (Chipo) Hamukoma, research manager, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator; Christel Laudrup Spliid, qualitative consultant, HK Lab; and Christina J. Colclough, The Why Not Lab Innovations are emerging worldwide to address the challenges of a rapidly changing future of work. The pandemic is likely to accelerate the pace of technological change and automation globally. To secure a future where good work is available to all, we will need new approaches to skills, training and lifelong learning, to economic security and to worker voice and power. To launch the RSA Good Work Guild, the panel of good work innovators shares the solutions they have pioneered to support and empower workers in the transition to the jobs of the future; the systemic challenges they have faced in taking new ideas to scale; and the opportunities for innovators, investors and institutional actors to come together to build and sustain system-wide good work innovation, and a global movement for change. Breaking the Monopolisation of Truth & WeClock Starting 35 minutes in, Christina J. Colclough used her moments to build out on the RSA's "Building a Field" for an ecosystem for worker innovators. She urged the RSA to include networks of trusted data analysts, legal expertise around good data stewardship, and data storytellers who understand the workers' struggle and the union cause. Christina introduced WeClock, the privacy-preserving self-tracking app she co-designed with Jonnie Penn, Nathan Freitas and Carrie Winfrey for the Young Workers' Lab at UNI Global Union. She urges unions to use WeClock to access work-related data and break the monopolisation of "truth" that the corporates control. Before moving on the moderator asked Christina for her views on how funders should change some of their fundamental behaviours to get behind worker power. Christina replied. Firstly, foundations need to not just research workers as objects, but as subjects. Foundations must dare go into the workers' realities. Secondly, we need to build an innovation environment that embraces failure, connects organisations, reaches out to young workers and finds their narratives and languages. Failure must be embraced, we need to experiment. And thirdly, stop being so shy to the trade union movement. Many foundations will not finance the union movement directly. This has to stop. Foundations are buying a good conscience. They can't just do lip service to this. Read more about the RSA's Good Work Guild here: https://www.thersa.org/future-of-work/good-work-guild See their report here And see their funky Good Work Directory on good work innovations across Europe here: https://www.thersa.org/future-of-work/global-innovations-good-work/directory

  • #UnionTech

    Videos, materials and summaries from a 4-part course for FES offered to you courtesy of FES, presenters, participants and moderator Christina Colclough from the Why Not Lab. In April and May 2021, FES - the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, arranged a 4-part course on #UnionTech as part of their Unions In Transformation program. The Why not Lab moderated the four workshops that were additionally guested by Developer Nathan Freitas, the Guardian Project; AI Expert Dr Jonnie Penn, Cambridge University; and Data Specialist Dan Calacci from the MIT Media Lab. Here is what we got up to. Workshop 1 - Organisation-wide transformation The first workshop zoomed in on trade union transformation in the digital age by discussing if, and how, unions could draw inspiration from existing Data/Digital Maturity Frameworks (DMF). Ensuring an organisation-wide and embedded transformation will be key for trade unions as they reform their strategies, structures and processes to address the digitalisation of work. Drawing inspiration from the amazing DMF designed by DataKind UK and Data Orchard, we focussed on change at the following key levels: Leadership In-house or available skills Organising and campaigning Collective bargaining Digital Understanding See the recording of workshop 1 here and get the slides by clicking the image below. Workshop 2 - Horizon scanning Nathan Freitas, the founder of the Guardian Project, develops open-source, privacy-preserving mobile apps to empower disadvantaged groups. In this workshop, Nathan took us through emerging technologies and how we can safeguard our privacy, autonomy and identity. See Nathan's key recommendations in the slide deck below, and watch the recording of the whole workshop here. (Psssttt. it's well worth a replay as Nathan fires gems away like there is no end to it.... ) Workshop 3: "Now What?" Does a technological revolution lead to a social revolution or the other way round? Dr Jonnie Penn, an historian of AI kicked off this workshop with an affirmation to the unions in the room that a social revolution can shape a technological one. To shape and form the digitalised world to meet the needs of workers, citizens and planet, we need to organise! In this workshop, we covered a wide range of topics from understanding that the current digitalisation of work and workers is an "intelligence inequality" leading to the disempowerment of workers and unions. Dr Penn urged us to be critical to the normalisation of tech - if we use it, use it critically and guarded. See the full recording here, Dr Jonnie Penn's slides below and the summary slides here Workshop 4: Data Storytelling Wrapping up the course, PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, Dan Calacci shared his knowledge and experience with data storytelling. Dan showed how he had helped Schipt workers challenge the platform's claim that their new effort-based model was increasing pay for all workers. Using screenshots of payslips, a dose of machine learning magic, Dan could prove that pay had decreased for 41% of all Schipt workers. From there Dan took us through Feigenbaum and Alamalhodaei pyramid journey from moving from data --> information --> knowledge --> wisdom. Using examples, Dan really shoed how unions could use data storytelling to break the intelligence inequality and power asymmetriens Dr Jonnie Penn discussed with us in Workshop 3. See the workshop recording here (well worth your time!) and Dan's slides below. All material offered to viewers courtesy of presenters, participants and hosts FES.

  • Your Digital Selves' Rights

    In this article for the Danish Insurance Union, we zoom in on how the many digital identities formed on us as workers and citizens can harm career opportunities and the quest for diverse and inclusive labour markets if unions don't start pushing back now. Read the full Danish article here and via images below. Read the original English version below. Your digital selves' rights What happens to all of the photos, google map searches, social media posts, workplace productivity scores, evaluations and “profiles” you have made and be subjected to as you get older, and even die? This might sound like a really odd question, but think about it for a second. As we discussed in the article: It’s Not Just About You, all of your data actually has an impact on other people - not just you. Currently, once data has been gathered, used in algorithms or inferences (remember those often damming profiles that manipulate our life and career chances and those of others too), its out there. It gets replicated, shared, sold, rebundled with other information and sold again. Without a “data life length” - it can live on forever, even when you are gone. This raises many questions: Will we forever be judged against things we did when we were young? Will all of our data profiles continue to affect the live chances of others, even when we are dead? Will your work life opportunities as you grow older be limited by whether you had more sick days than average when you were in your 30s, or have been overweight judging by the norm since you were 40? Are you still investible for an employer? We need to ask these questions as our digital selves (yes we have potentially many selfs), even those we have no idea have been created, have not necessarily been given a natural “out-of-date” “out-of-life” stamp. When we think about it, all of this is really problematic. Your career chances as you grow older can be limited by how others like you, now long passed away, managed to perform. Were they slow - too slow? Were they less adaptable? Softer and therefore more suitable for customer call centres than high speed trading or data crunching? Age discrimination happens. On DR P1 on Monday April 26, a headhunter was interviewed. He reported he numerous times had been asked by clients to screen applicants according to their gender and/or age. I have raised a number of warning flags that we need to take seriously in this datified world of ours. In articles and blogs on the Why Not Lab I have offered some solutions and especially highlighted the key role of trade unions and collective bargaining in turning the tides and making sure our digitalised work life is inclusive, diverse and respectful of our fundamental rights. The Danish Insurance Union has now asked me to suggest some concrete solutions and policies that unions beneficially should explore. I will do so in this article and two more to come. Now back to the rights of your digital selves. How can we avoid being subject to manipulations based on old data or data from folks now long gone? How can we ensure that our life’s don’t continue to affect others, when we ourselves have passed away? The GDPR gives us a helping hand The European General Data Protection Regulation is founded on seven guiding principles. These are described in GDPR Article 5. A key principle is that of data minimisation (art 5(c)): Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimisation’); What article 5 says is that data controllers may only collect the necessary data, and only the necessary data, for the given purpose and only the given purpose, and stored for only the necessary amount of time. If respected, this will indeed help us to prevent that our digital selves continue to affect others - and ourselves - for eternity. However, all is not that simple. Do we actually know what data processing is taking place? Although companies are obliged to tell you, do they? You have a right to be informed about: The collection of data How the company plans to use the data The reason why they are collecting the data Can the purpose of collecting the data be achieved without collecting the data? How long will the data be stored to fulfill the purpose? Is the data periodically reviewed in relation to the above 5 points and deleted if required? In accordance with article 16 in the GDPR, you also have a right to edit the personal data collected on you, and article 17, gives you additionally the right to have the data erased if the data is no longer necessary to fulfill the purpose to which they were collected. Article 17 is key to preventing that data and data inferences live on forever. Ensuring compliance with this article is therefore really important for the union policies of the right to a long working life. What should the union do? This gives your union, who can be mandated to represent you (see article 80 GDPR), many possibilities. They must insure: That the workers have been informed about all data collection (points 1-6 above); Help you through “data subject access requests” exercise your right to correct the data held; From your employer a record of whether and how the company is compliant with the GDPR’s seven principles - including the one on how long data can be stored; That companies are in compliance with article 35 on data protection impact assessments (DPIA). As the processing of personal data at work is a “high-risk” operation, companies are actually obliged to consult with the workers when writing the DPIA. I have knowledge of just 2 examples of this actually happening. Are we ok then? No. Whilst all of the above measures can really help protect our rights, and prevent the eternal influence of out-of-date data and data profiles, we are faced with additional changes. Firstly, the geographical scope of the GDPR is established in article 3. Whilst this offers a broad protection of our rights, the world extends beyond the GDPR’s boundaries. Algorithmic systems can be trained on data from other countries and regions, and therefore indirectly influence the outcome even when the GDPR is complied with. Secondly, the GDPR poorly defines our rights in relation to data profiles we are subject to, but that have nothing directly to do with our own personal data. As mentioned in my article in Forsikring-1 2021, unions have an important role here. Let’s imagine an automated hiring system that your company has bought from a company in the United States. Maybe this system has been trained on data and data inferences from segments of workers in the US. It is then instructed to sort applicants according to certain phrases, words, experiences, characteristics. Now what if the algorithm has “learnt” that someone with a particular education, from a particular decade and of a particular gender is most likely not to stay with the company for that long? If you are an applicant with similar characteristics, do you think you will make it to the interview? Most probably not. This is one of the reasons why unions must demand a seat at the table in governing these algorithmic systems. You need to be in a position to ask what data the algorithm is trained on, what characteristics, words, phrases, inferences it is trained to judge as positive or negative. And you must ask: how will all of this influence the union goal of ensuring diverse and inclusive labour markets? In conclusion Unions simply must capacity build to conquer these important issues. Shop stewards should be trained so they can be the digital watchdogs in the workplaces so you can enjoy a long working life free from data-driven manipulations that prevent you and others from fulfilling your potential. Lastly, given that digital tools really don’t care about national boundaries, only law, unions must cooperate internationally to push governments to regulate these systems globally so all workers, no matter where they are, can enjoy the same strong rights and protections.

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  • About | The Why Not Lab

    About the Why Not Lab The Why Not Lab is a boutique value-driven consultancy that puts workers at the centre of digital change. We offer our expertise exclusively to progressive organisations, trade unions and governments. The Why Not Lab has a two-fold mission to ensure that the digital world of work is empowering rather than exploitative. We: ​ Equip workers and their unions with the right skills, know-how and know-what to ensure collective rights in the digital age; ​ Put workers' interests centre stage in current and future digital policies ​ ​ Both are necessary. Politically, even in discussions on the future(s) of work, workers' interests are seldom heard or even considered. This must change. To bridge digital divides and prevent the objectification of workers that is currently underway, workers must be empow ered so they can table an alternative digital ethos. The Why Not Lab aims to support exactly this through our training, policy and strategic support. ​ The Why Not Lab is run by Dr Christina J. Colclough - a fearless optimist who believes that change for good is possible if we put our minds and heart to it. She works with experts and partners across the world to provide the best advice at all times. Read more about Dr. Colclough below Please note: We believe all workers have the right to Rewarding Work in the digital age. We have therefore adopted a differential pricing principle so we can support workers and organisations from all regions of the world. Do contact us with any inquiries. Dr Christina J. Colclough Regarded as a thought leader on the futures of work(ers) and the politics of digital technology, Christina is an advocate for the workers’ voice. She has extensive global labour movement experience, where she led their future of work policies, advocacy and strategies for a number of years. She was the author of the union movement's first principles on Workers' Data Rights and the Ethics of AI . A globally sought-after keynote speaker and workshop trainer with over 200 speeches and trainings the last 3 years, Christina created the Why Not Lab as a dedication to improving workers' digital rights. She is included in the all-time Hall of Fame of the world's most brilliant women in AI Ethics. See Christina's wikipedia page here. ​ Trusted Positions ​ Christina is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK, a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) and she is Advisory Board member of Carnegie Council's new program: AI and Equality Initiative . She is, furthermore, a member of the OECD One AI Expert Group , the UN's Secretary General Roadmap for Digital Cooperation and is affiliated to FAOS , the Employment Relations Research Center at Copenhagen University. Our Digital Future Our Digital Future is a 3-year project with Public Services International aimed at capacity building unions in all regions of the world on digitalisation of work and workers and co-designing union responses. All training material is public subject to creative commons license . #UnionTech Find the material & recordings from this 4-part series of workshops on #UnionTech here - courtesy of participants, presenters and FES . These workshops united participants to build their capacity to critically use & challenge digital technologies. Digital Training USA Pretty honoured to be working with a top-notch university in the US to create a series of workshops on digitalisation and the impacts on work and workers. The first round of workshops is tailor-made union leaders. Co-governing A.I Through thematic advice and training we are supporting a group of unions in a European country on the co-governance of algorithmic systems in workplaces. Their aim is to scale to the entire labour market. Define & Train We are in the process of co-creating and finalising a training and empowerment project for a multilateral organisation. This project will define policies and conduct the necessary training for constituents across the world. Wheels within wheels Tech for Good requires collective action. We are working with tech activists on a funky idea to collectivise the risks and benefits of responsible tech to boost campaigns, organising and worker power. ​ Current Projects Testimonials John C. Havens E.D., IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous & Intelligent Systems & Council on Extended Intelligence . In an environment where rhetoric often rules all, Christina provides hard-hitting yet pragmatic and solutions-oriented counsel on issues including the future of work, human autonomy, human rights, and technology governance in general. ​ She is my "go to" person on any issues related to AI and the future of work based on her specialized knowledge of worker's rights and actual global policy and economics relating to these issues versus only aspirational techno-utopian ideals. She is also a gifted and personable speaker, transforming highly nuanced and complex technical and political issues into conversational, story-oriented speeches.

  • Tools | The Why Not Lab

    Tech for Good One of the Why Not Lab's missions is to co-develop and deploy digital technologies that empower minority groups and safeguard human rights. Check out our privacy-preserving self-tracking app WeClock . Or the guide to good data governance Lighthouse . Thoughtexchange is the tool for you to stay in line with your members, staff or networks. WeClock the app for workers by workers WeClock offers a privacy-preserving way to empower workers and unions in their battle for decent work. WeClock gives an indication of the present and changing natu­re of work by providing insight about the: presence or absence of decent or fair work, working conditions, or work/life balance. Built with workers in mind, WeClock empowers change. Check out the app's website here for more info and download links. Lighthouse Online Tool for Good Data Governance Given that WeClock will be a data-gathering tool for unions, we decided to work with a UK union Prospect , along with Digital Public and Small Scale , to develop Lighthouse – an online, privacy-preserving tool to help unions become stewards of good data governance. Lighthouse takes the form of an online guide - or quiz - where those participating get to rate their methods and practices along a range of topics. ​ ​ Get Lighthouse courtesy of Prospect here Digital Tools for Trade Unions 2019 Report As part of the Young Workers Lab project, we scanned the market for digital tools either built by trade unions or that could be an inspiration for trade unions. Our insights are available in our "Connective Action: Digital Tools for Trade Unions report." ​ Download the report here . Thoughtexchange the crowd-sourcing platform As work becomes more precarious, piecemeal and decentralised, we needed a communication tool that could reach all members, no matter where they were and when they worked. Thoughtexchange is that very tool! Read user stories from UNI Global's members and sectors here: Engaging members in new ways (Unions21) Grim Reality for Young Workers Strengthening Union Democracy ​ ​ Contact Thoughtexchange here . ​

  • Contact | The Why Not Lab

    Let's Connect! Towards a Future of Rewarding Work We believe in the richness of diversity, equal opportunities and inclusive meetings, panels, speaker line ups etc. We urge all requestors to diversify their events as much as possible, and will happily recommend excellent folks in our stead. Submit Thanks for contacting The Why Not Lab. You will hear from us soon, Christina

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