Data as Labour: Rethinking the Collection and Ownership of Personal Information in the Era of Artificial Intelligence
Terrace Lounge Seminar Room
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This seminar is part of the 'Troubling Policy' series run by the Melbourne School of Government.
We collected more data on ourselves in 2016 than we had in the rest of human history. Within ten years, as sensors and processors are embedded in everyday objects and devices, including cars, fridges and even clothing — that is, as the 'internet of things' connects our everyday activities to the internet — the amount of personal data collected is likely to double every 12 hours. So we generate this data in our everyday lives and then we give it away for free to a handful of companies who monetise it, generating potentially enormous profits. Increasingly, they use it to build artificial intelligence that is being used to, if not outright replace the work that humans do, then at least change the nature of work, putting downward pressure on wages and conditions. If we want to avoid the sort of concentration of wealth this implies, and maintain functioning democracies, we will need to treat data differently, as labour and not just as capital, and find ways we can all share in the wealth it helps generate.