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Blog Posts (80)

  • Speech: New Regulation Needed

    In this 15 minute speech at the Chilean Congreso Futuro held in January 2023, I suggest a number of regulatory policies needed to protect workers' rights in digitalised workplaces. In the speech I make 3 main points: The current digital trajectory is leading to narrow, exclusive labour markets and violations on human rights Globally, regulation specific to digitalisation of labour markets and workers is poorly developed We need our governments to reprioritise labour By offering examples of the harms workers are experiencing in digitalised workplaces, I end the speech by offering suggestions to what new - or revised - policies we need as well as why the current regulatory move towards regulating AI through certifications and standards is problematic. Congreso Futuro The congress: Without Real Limits is organised by the Chilean government. It welcomes scientists from across the world to offer their visions of what a universe of infinite possibilities would be like. The Congreso is open to the public across all 16 regions in Chile as well as live-streamed to over a million viewers.

  • The Competence Wheel

    Based on a municipality's wish to deploy digital technologies responsibly and knowledgably, the Why Not Lab has created the Competence Wheel - a 5 step journey to ensure fairness, transparency, empowerment and ownership over the digital technologies deployed. Identifying the Problem In this decentralised municipality, over 300 digital systems are in use - although some more than others. Most of the systems had been developed in each department independently from other departments. None of the current systems used artificial intelligence, machine learning or deep learning, yet the municipality expected such systems to be used sooner rather than later. Most of the systems are third party systems, developed either by the association of municipalities or by private companies. The municipality was rather surprised by the number of digital systems they had, and they had no clear idea on what criteria the systems had been procured. Whilst the systems did support some decision making, the leadership also believed that they could benefit far more from evidence (data-driven) policy making than they already do. Many of the department heads reported that the competencies to operate the systems were not widely shared, nor did the municipality have a digital strategy across departments. Realising the need to have a more coherent municipality-wide strategy to support policy making and to protect the generalised trust levels between citizens and the municipality, the Why Not Lab was tasked to offer some suggestions to support a transparent, inclusive and deliberate digital transformation in the municipality. Deploying Digital Technologies Responsibly Drawing on conversations with the working group as well as lessons learnt from public and private sector failures in the deployment of digital technologies, the Why Not Lab created the Competence Wheel - 5 key competencies that should be mainstreamed within and across all municipal departments. These competencies will ensure: that digital technologies empower the public sector and the civil servants responsible for deploying them that the use of digital systems is made transparent to the citizens together with clear lines of responsibility and points of contact that relevant staff and political heads understand and can explain how the systems work, what their purpose is, and what rights those affected by the systems have that all digital systems are periodically governed to ensure that rights are respected and (un)intended negative consequences identified and rectified that all deployed systems can be adapted based on the outcomes of the governance The 5 competencies in short The 5 competencies are interrelated. One will strengthen the others and all depend on the others for a coherent and responsible digital deployment. #1 - Negotiate: This competence has to do with the demands the municipality puts in the contracts with suppliers and procurement partners. Here it is important to negotiate for (1) joint data access and control, (2) stringent third party limitations on the repurposing of data derived from the systems, and (3) for the right to demand changes to the systems if harms or other negative outcomes are detected. This competence is strongly linked to the next one on understanding the systems. #2 - Understand: To ensure that the civil servants and departments deploying the systems are the responsible parties, they must understand how the systems work, what data they are trained on, what the instructions are, and how the systems each the outcomes they do. This is not a given especially in machine learning systems, but at the same an essential competence if humans are to be the responsible agents. #3 - Explain: The municipality must at all times be able to translate this understanding into coherent explanations of how the systems work and how outcomes have been reached. This competence is essential to protect citizen rights, to ensure inter-municipal learning and to uphold trust levels between citizens and the public sector. #4 - Govern: The governance competencies relate to conducting impact assessments prior to deploying digital technologies as well as establishing governance bodies tasked with the responsibility of periodically governing the technologies for harms and other unintended or unwanted negative outcomes. These bodies must be inclusive, in other words consist of representatives of those who are subjects of the systems in addition to management and employees. #5 - Adapt: How systems should be adapted will depend on the outcome of the governance stage. In addition, adaptation rights will depend on the contracts signed and whether in the negotiation stage the public authority has ensured they have the right to demand adaptations if harms or other negative outcomes are identified. At all times it must be the inclusive governance body who decides whether the technical adaptations are sufficient and acceptable. In other words, governance and adaptation responsibilities must never be a purely technical endeavour. Working with the Competence Wheel The competence wheel will be used to address the problems identified in the start of the project. In a form of centralised-decentralisation the municipality's various departments will be guided through the competence wheel in cooperation with a central team. The aim is to ensure that the employees and management team take control and ownership over the systems deployed and ensure that any third party systems are designed and run with citizens' rights and privacy at heart. For the citizens impacted by outcomes of these digital systems the outcome should be increased understanding of how the municipal decisions are made, on what basis, what their rights are and who to turn to with questions and queries. The Why Not Lab will be supporting the work in the municipality as they pursue the 5 competencies and the sub tasks under each.

  • We Don't Know, What We Don't Know

    Unless workers and their unions capacity build to understand how digital technologies work, and what causes the harms and otherwise negative impacts on workers, they will forever be one step behind. They simply must know, what they need to know, to collectively reshape the digitalisation of work and workers. Collective Lessons from 2022 During 2022, the Why Not Lab has provided training courses, keynote speeches and workshops for trade unions in all regions of the world. And one lesson stands out: they don't know, what they don't know. Put differently, they - like the majority of folks - do not know how digital technologies work, what data or inferences are, the role of algorithmic instructions, and how all of these together and independently can be impacting workers' rights. They therefore don't know why and how digital technologies affect workers, and therefore don't know where to set in, what questions to ask and demands to make to flush these harms out and remedy them. Without these insights into what makes digital technologies so different from their analogue ancestors, the depth and the breadth of the often uneven effects of these technologies remain unexplored and uncontested. Instead, unions and workers are left dealing with the consequences after harms are caused rather than putting safeguards and demands in place to as best as possible prevent these harms from ever happening. Empowering Workers Requires Capacity Building There is no doubt that to fix this, capacity building is required. Fortunately, this is happening across the world, and we are heavily involved. Three Norwegian unions have collaborated to create a course for shop stewards that is a general introduction to artificiel intelligence systems in workplaces. The global union for public services unions, PSI, is running a 3-year capacity building project Our Digital Future. It is training regional groups of Digital Rights Organisers, trade union leaders and bargaining officers and equipping them with tools and guides to help bridge the gap from theory to practice and strengthen their collective bargaining. The International Transport Federation, ITF, is running a 2 year Union Transformation project that by using the Why Not Lab's Digital Readiness Framework seeks to help unions tap into the potentials of digital technologies - but responsibly and with privacy and rights at heart. Education International has launched a MOOC for their members on the pitfalls, challenges and potentials of EdTech. Many other national and regional unions are leaping into this work too through workshops and conferences on the digitalisation of work and workers. These events are inspiring their continued work to transform their strategies and table new demands in collective bargaining. Data, Algorithms and AI So what more concretely do the unions and workers need to learn? First and foremost: data. What it is, from where it is extracted, how it is inferred and otherwise used and what then happens to it. From our everyday lives to the workplace, we can no longer hardly escape this datafication of self and others. A common thought seems to be: "I've done nothing wrong, so who cares if they (the apps or digital platforms) take my data?" Shared by many, this very thought expresses all too well that the connection between data, inferences and algorithms and what jobs we are offered or advertisements or opinions we are fed is not known. Nor is it known that what you do, and don't do, can affect the lives of others. Understanding algorithms, AI and machine learning, is therefore also important. Has an algorithmic system (based on data inputs) found a connection between age, gender, postcode and productivity, then the likelihood of someone getting that job who doesn't match the connection will significantly decline. (A Why Not Lab presentation held December 2022) Managerial Fuzz Yet it is not only the workers who urgently need this capacity building - so too do the employers who are deploying these technologies. Reports from unions from across the world reveal that managers don't know, what they should know either. Maybe the human resource department is using an automated scheduling tool that the IT department has purchased on the order of executive management. In many cases, the division of responsibility between managers with regards to the governance of these technologies has not been made clear. Managerial Fuzz abounds. Who has informed the employees about the system? Do the systems actually do what they claim 'on the tin'? How should they be governed for (un)intended harms and by whom? Who is evaluating the outcomes and making the final decision to go with the system's recommendations or results, or not? What are the rights of those affected? It is alarming, to say the least, that so many workers report that they never have been informed about what digital technologies the employer is using to manage them. Equally concerning is the fact that managers are deploying technologies they have not properly understood. Yet the employers are, and should be held, responsible for the impacts of these systems. The Pac Man Interestingly, all models for algorithmic audits or impact assessments never question whether management has the competencies they need to actually conduct these audits and assessments, or indeed govern the technologies. They all implicitly assume management has. This in turn begs the question: Who is actually in control here? Given that the vast vast majority of digital technologies deployed in workplaces are third party systems, the answer is probably the vendors and/or developers. The labour-management relation is thus becoming a three-party relation, yet few realise this. The increasing power of the Pac Man, i.e. the third party vendors and developers, is occurring at the expense of the autonomy of labour and management. This, in turn, will indirectly if not directly have an influence on worker power. What's next ? Looking ahead into 2023, the Why Not Lab's calendar is bursting with exciting projects that will continue to capacity build unions, governments and public services. Together with the unions we will expand on the contents of our courses. We will refine the tools we have piloted to support unions' collective bargaining on workers' digital rights. And we will work with unions to co-develop and implement our Algorithmic Co-governance Guide. We will also be working on projects with universities bridging the expertise of academia and workers' realities. Excitingly, plans are in the making to author a "book" - a combination of text, podcasts and videos - for workers about the digitalisation of work and workers. And we will not stop doing ours to highlight the gaps identified above within the OECD, the G7, G20, the EU, the WTO and elsewhere with regards to ensuring that digital technologies respect workers' rights, freedoms and autonomy. This year has been a blast. High fives to every organisation who has shown leadership in the quest to understand and reshape digitalisation!

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Other Pages (7)

  • Contact | The Why Not Lab | Championing ALT Digital

    Let's Connect! And Reshape Digital @ Work Send If you are connecting with us for speaking arrangements, we believe in the richness of diversity and equal opportunities. We urge all requestors to diversify their events as much as possible, and will happily recommend excellent folks in our stead. Thanks for contacting The Why Not Lab. You will hear from us soon, Christina

  • The Hive | The Why Not Lab | Championing ALT Digital

    Explore Speeches Podcasts Tech for Good Workshops Tech for Good The Hive The hive is buzzing with activity! Check our services below for how you can strengthen your digital strategies. Combine, mould or pick one. The Why Not Lab offers flexible, tailormade solutions that meet your needs. Do contact us to find out how we can support you Why Not Lab Actions What Not Lab Services Tech 4 Good Our digital tools are a means to a bigger end. Using digital tools can be a powerful way to organise, campaign and gather data to improve worker well-being. Check these two we've co-developed. WeClock & Lighthouse . More are on their way! Guides 4 Unions We have developed a number of guides to help unions bargain for much stronger digital rights for workers. See a couple of them here: ​ ​The Data Lifecycle at Work The Co-Governance of Algorithmic Systems ​ ​ Speeches Are you on the lookout for an engaging, globally acclaimed keynote speaker or moderator? Christina sheds fresh light on the future of work, AI and data & digitalised work leaving everyone charged up for change. Watch some of her speeches for inspiration Contact us Questions? Curious to know more? Workshops We hold tailormade workshops that aim to build your capacity to shape the digital world of work.​ Combined with practical exercises, these workshops will shift your perspective and help you master change! Find inspiration here Research ​We can situate your organisation's policies and strategies in a digital context through written reports, briefs and/or audio/visual material. ​Combine with some of our other services for max benefit. See some of our research here Do you want to finetune your organisation so it can shape the digital world of work? Here we are! ​ We have developed a Digital Readiness Guide to support your digitally responsbile, organisatíon-wide transformation. Strategy

  • About | The Why Not Lab | Championing ALT Digital

    about the Why Not Lab The Why Not Lab is a boutique value-driven consultancy that exclusively serves progressive organisations, trade unions, public services and governments. The Why Not Lab has a three-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 shape an alternative digital ethos that ensures collective rights in the digital age; ​ Put workers' interests centre stage in current and future digital policies Support public services and governments in ensuring that the use of digital technologies respects human rights and is fair, transparent and responsible. ​ ​ 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 support workers and organisations across the world and have adopted a differential pricing principle. 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 400 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. ​ Trusted Positions ​ Christina is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the UK and Advisory Board member of Carnegie Council's new program: AI and Equality Initiative. She is also a member of the OECD One AI Expert Group and is affiliated to FAOS, the Employment Relations Research Center at Copenhagen University. In 2021, Christina was a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI). Dr Christina J. Colclough 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. Training material (reports & slides) are available upon request. MOOC for unions With a good camera, professional lighting, a yummy Røde microphone, the scene is set to shoot a number of short videos that in time will become a full blown MOOC. Its all about the datafication of work, digital technologies and union responses. ​ 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. 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. Data Storytelling The team behind WeClock offers with support from FES an in-depth, hands-on course on data storytelling. Through responsible data collection, to designing and running the campaign, participants learn how to analyse their data and use this in their campaigning. Current Projects Current Projects Testimonials 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. What I am reading

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