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Blog Posts (57)

  • Worker Data Collectives

    - Between commodification and empowerment In this 8-minute impulse for FES #DigiCap I introduce my thoughts on worker data collectives. Listen up for why I think that data collectives have their merit on the medium term - but not unconditionally so. The impulse is part of a panel featuring Professor Trebor Scholz and Senior Fellow Sigurt Vitols. We discuss how democratic participation is changing in the European economy, and to what extent digitalisation is putting pressure on it. Which innovative ideas, such as data collectives or platform cooperatives, can we use to strengthen co-determination and democratic participation in the economy? Worker Data Collectives Demands In my introductory impulse I argue that I am torn between two opposites. Whether workers collecting data will add to the commodificaiton of workers, or will it empower them? Worker data collectives have their merit, but not unconditionally so. Here I lay out some of the basic requirements for the responsible collection of worker data: We need to learn from the finest principle in the GDPR: data minimisation. Workers should only collect the necessary data for a particular purpose. Hoarding data is not the solution. Redlines must be set for what the data can be used for, by whom and why. Workers data collectives should avoid the temptation to sell access to the data: Selling means we accept that data is a commodity and therefore we are. I continue by arguing that data collectives can be necessary to push back on the industrial monopolisation of the narrative that we are currently subject to. When businesses are those who are hoarding the data and turning this into uncontested "truths", workers (indeed all citizens) are being manipulated exclusively for the good of capital. But regulation is needed, here is what we need: Regulation Needed To prevent the uncontested commodification of work and workers I call for the following global policies: Workers need the right to know what data generated inferences they are subject to. No regulation in the world allows for this, even the GDPR fails us here. Yet these inferences can significantly impact who gets a job, who is penalised, who is offered which opportunities and so forth. We need to ban the markets that trade in human futures. I. e. the trading of datasets and inferences that include people's data. This market, which nobody really knows who occupies, is leading to the commodification of us all. And I call for the co-governance of algorithmic systems in workplaces. No audit, impact assessment or governance can take place without the voices of those subject to these systems. See the full FES event website here: https://www.fes.de/en/digitalcapitalism for all of the amazing speeches and interviews.

  • Human Rights Must be Upheld

    Today I held my last intervention as Steering Committee member of the Global Partnership on AI - an intergovernmental cooperation counting 19 governments and the EU. I was asked how GPAI could be developed, and offered three areas of utmost importance. - Human Rights, Diversity and Commitment I mentioned how Governments today are standing on the shoulders of giants, where world leaders at crucial moments in history dared commit to one another. I stressed that the world today needs the same level of commitment. That tech knows no boundaries and global regulation is needed. On diversity that is key for GPAIs future, I asked for new structures and polices that would allow the voice of those subject to the harms and impacts of AI to be present. Also if they do not have the resources to volunteer their participation. And, I added that the most pertinent issue is that of upholding Human Rights. How we can debate ethics, debate values, but we cannot debate human rights. That these rights should permiate all of GPAIs work. And then some more. See video recording See the interventions by Co-Chair Baronnes Joanna Shields (excellent opening), Co-chair Jordan Zed, incoming SC member Dr Yoku Harayama and me here

  • Seven ways platform workers are fighting back

    The Trades Union Congress (TUC) in the UK has just published this collection of essays on how platform workers are fighting back against algorithmic management, the datafication of work and precarity. It includes an essay by Christina Colclough, the founder of the Why Not Lab. Collection Summary Platform working is an expanding part of the economy. Globally the number of platforms has grown five-fold in a decade. And the coronavirus pandemic seems to have been the catalyst for further surge in platform growth in the UK and elsewhere as many homebound workers opted for internet shopping and food delivery. New polling data published in this collection shows that 14.7 per cent of working people in England and Wales, equivalent to approximately 4.4 million people, now undertakes platform work at least once a week. Almost a quarter (22.6 per cent) of workers have done platform work at some point. It can seem that practices like casualisation, management by algorithm rather than human and a complete absence of trade unions are baked into the way that platform economy is run. There are fears that it is therefore only a matter of time before these spread to other jobs. Yet platform workers, who range from private hire drivers to translators, and their representatives are fighting back in many important areas and have secured notable victories. However, often this activity is conducted in isolation: the labour lawyers plot improvement to employments rights in one corner while the tech enthusiasts highlight discriminatory algorithms in another. Meanwhile, union organisers plug away in the vital work of signing up new members. This essay collection seeks to unite these experiences to build a picture of the various areas where platform workers are fighting for their rights with the aim of informing and inspiring future union activity. All work should be decent work. These essays set out ways this might be achieved in the platform economy. See the full table of contents here: Building Union Data Capacity Colclough's essay argues that we need to turn the tides, and tip the scales so workers can be empowered and protect their rights. Digital platform workers and their unions could beneficially tap into the powers of digital technologies to form their responses. While it would be ill-advised to simply duplicate, or increase, the surveillance of workers and the commodification of work they are already subject to, she presents two inspiring possibilities (WeClock and Driver's Seat), a helpful guide (Lighthouse) and a vision for the future (workers' data collectives). Common for them is that they empower workers through the responsible collectivisation of worker data. Read her essay below, download it, and do read the full publication

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  • Futures of Work | The Why Not Lab | Christina J. Colclough

    There is a flawed assumption that management actually understands and appropriately governs the digital technologies they are deploying. This is really not the case. - Dr Christina J. Colclough The Why Not Lab Equips workers and their unions with the right skills, know-how and know-what to ensure collective rights in the digital age; ​ Puts workers' interests centre stage in current and future digital policies Actions by the Why Not Lab ​ Work with us to champion a digital future of work that respects workers' collective rights. Check out our union tools , current projects and read who we are on our about page Actions The Hive is buzzing! Check what services we can offer you to champion digital change. Combine them or pick one. We create flexible, tailormade solutions that meet your needs Swarm >> Opinions The Hub is the center for our opinions, reflections and policies. Find practical inspiration for what alternative strategies we should pursue to empower workers. See some of our speeches here too! Huddle >> Tools Digital tools are a means to an end. We co-developed WeClock , a privacy-preserving self-tracking app for workers and Lighthouse a guide to good data governance. Check out our union bargaining guides here too. Jump >> Selected Projects 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. 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. Why work with us? We are a boutique consultancy that believes in the abundance of opportunity as long as it is shared. In the digital world of work, technology must be governed collectively. We need to embrace dialogue to ensure that workplaces are inclusive, diverse and empowering for all. We need a future of Rewarding Work . Here's what you can do - see more in the Hive and check out our current projects . Capacity build so tech can be governed collectively Lead in your sector with confidence and concrete points of action Learn how to co-govern algorithmic systems in workplaces. Apply our model! Find the gaps and negotiate for much stronger collective data rights for workers Harness the power of new and emerging technologies Create a new digital ethos that puts people and planet before everything else ​ ​ See some of the workshops we give here ​ Recent Posts in the Hub Worker Data Collectives In this short impulse for FES #DigiCap, I introduce my thoughts on worker data collectives. They have their merit but not unconditionally so Human Rights Must be Upheld Addressing GPAI, Christina Colclough urges GPAI to uphold human rights, dare seek global commitment to AI regulation and embrace diversity Seven ways platform workers are fighting back The TUC publishes this collection of essays on how platform workers are fighting back. Includes essay by Christina J. Colclough Turning the Tides What harms and impacts are algorithmic systems having on workers, and how could unions respond. Speech for Nordic Financial Unions, Oct 2021 Your Digital Union Facing a number of challenges caused by digitalisation, this article lays out what the future digitalised union does, how and why. Digitalisation: A Union Action Guide This report sets out the issues unions face as public services and work become digitalised. It includes recommendations for union action

  • 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 and 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 and i s 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). 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. 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. 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.

  • Speeches on the future of work | The Why Not Lab

    Speeches << Jump to podcasts Christina J. Colclough 3 days ago Worker Data Collectives In this short impulse for FES #DigiCap, I introduce my thoughts on worker data collectives. They have their merit but not unconditionally so Christina J. Colclough Nov 1 Turning the Tides What harms and impacts are algorithmic systems having on workers, and how could unions respond. Speech for Nordic Financial Unions, Oct 2021 Christina J. Colclough Sep 2 A call for AI Governance Panel on AI governance, trustworthiness, dignity and human rights Christina J. Colclough Jun 14 Innovations for Good Work This panel gathered Good Work Innovators to discuss their initiatives, lessons learnt and tips for the future Christina J. Colclough May 25 AI and the Labour Market 6 min intervention by Christina J. Colclough for the European Parliament Public Hearing on AI and the Labour Market Christina J. Colclough Apr 25 Meaningful Inclusivity Hear us discuss why to and how to include underrepresented groups into the governance of AI. Christina J. Colclough Feb 5 Ethics of AI in the Workplace - panel @ OECD This panel went straight to the core of AI in Work. We discuss worker power, the need for regulation & the absolute requirement to govern AI Christina J. Colclough Jan 12 The Future of AI and Human Experience Discussing a range of topics from the necessary co-governance of AI, to workers' digital rights, to equitable workplaces in the digital age Christina J. Colclough Nov 10, 2020 AI as a Tool for Worker Empowerment? Streamed live on November 11, 2020, this conversation on the futures of work and workers is a follow up on the AI & Equality Initiative's... Christina J. Colclough Oct 4, 2020 Putting Practice to Principle: Why AI at Work Needs Co-Governing Speech held for PAFOW on October 5 2020 for hundreds of experts on People Analytics. A deep dive into why we must avoid the... Christina J. Colclough Sep 13, 2020 Taming the Algorithm - why workers need a voice on tech Held as a TUC 2020 Congress fringe event on Sep 14, 2020, this webinar was attended by over 100 shop stewards, experts and unionists.... Christina J. Colclough Jul 15, 2020 Data for Unions In this webinar from July 16, 2020 organised by Unions21, Andrew Pakes, Prospect and Dr Christina Colclough discuss what tools unions... Christina J. Colclough Jun 17, 2020 Future of Work - data, AI & workers In this recording, Andrew Pakes of Prospect and Dr Christina Colclough speak about why workers should be involved in the governance of... Christina J. Colclough Jun 2, 2020 Negotiating workers' data rights Click below for an extended commentary of why we must begin to negotiate workers' data rights. Companies/organisations increasingly... Christina J. Colclough May 18, 2020 Economic Rights in a Data-Based Society Webinar Organised by PSI, the global union for public services, IT for Change and FES, this webinar discusses why our collective future... Christina J. Colclough May 12, 2020 Hurry Up Slowly Full video available upon registration here An online discussion hosted by the Singularity University on governing AI principles... Christina J. Colclough Apr 21, 2020 The Future of Skills Workshop, April 22 2020 This workshop digs deep into the question of what skills will be needed in the digital world of work. We argue... Christina J. Colclough Apr 15, 2020 WeClock - the app for workers Workshop, April 15, 2020 This workshop presents our app WeClock. An open source, privacy-preserving app designed for workers by workers.... Christina J. Colclough Apr 7, 2020 Ensuring Workers' Data Rights Workshop This video is from a workshop Dr Christina Colclough gave to UNI Global Union on the topic of Workers' Data Rights and why there... Christina J. Colclough Feb 10, 2020 Trade Union Strategies This speech on "What's All This About Data" and trade union strategies offers quite a few surprises along the way. :-) Recorded at the... 1 2

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