Research Agenda: Labor in the Age of AI

At the crossroads of innovation and labor, the current discussion has mostly centered around two points of interest:

  • Will there be any jobs for people in the future? (ie can/will capital displace labor completely?)
  • How does new technology impact of the demand of skills? (SBTC increasing inequality, replacement of routine work by tech, increase in demand for STEM and social skills)

My interest at this intersection is on the changes to the structure of work due to this new wave of innovation (ICT revolution, the internet of things, Automation, etc.). My interests are in:

  • The way we do work

This has been discussed at length in regards to replacement of routine work, rise of social and stem skills, and within the innovation and management/organization fields, the importance of teamwork. In my previous work, I have been interested in the role of teamwork (it’s impact in conjunction with age on lifetime patenting) and skills (particularly the importance of knowledge managers).

  • How work is structured

Having a single employer is still the predominant form of work, but the rise of new online labor markets has lead way to a new class of work (sometimes dubbed the gig economy) of which many labor institutions are unprepared to handle.

How are new types of work affecting wages? With the rise of the gig economy, income can now come from a variety of sources, whether that be platform work through Mechanical Turk, renting out possessions (Homes via airbnb, cars via Turo) or providing services (Thumbtack, Etsy, Lyft). Work has become decentralized in these markets with employers no longer providing the same benefits or pay structure as those in more centralized firm organization structures. Has this new structure impacted inequality?  What is the responsibility of the firm to the employee? Under which labor institutional settings can workers be best protected considering the changing role of the firm (ie in the us context of providing retirement benefit options and healthcare)? How do we consider contracts for this new type of work and what rights do these individuals have?

  • The labor cost of crowdsourced data

For every rating or review that we give service providers, we are providing (unpaid) data (and work). The sum of this crowdsourced information is much more valuable than each of the ratings provided. How can we make visible the labor cost that goes into each of these ratings? Should firms pay for this information? Should the outcome of these crowdsourced information be made more publicly available (at least for government and researchers)?

 

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