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The so-called ‘gig economy’ is transforming our everyday life. For a fairly cheap price, it allows customers to enjoy a variety of services with incredible convenience – such as eating their favourite restaurant’s food without interrupting their early evening Netflix binge. Behind the scenes: a labour force managed through and experiencing unprecedented working conditions; companies often located in a specific area of the world, adapting to shifting regulatory contexts; in between them: app interfaces, algorithms, databases. What does it mean to have a non-human agent as a de facto boss, both from a managerial and an experiential perspective? Are there spaces for workers to game and/or resist the system? What is the value of data extracted from gig economy workers’ activities, besides that of optimizing labour exploitation? What are the implications on the urban scale of the fact most of these platforms originate from a specific region in the world? What can research, activism, and policy-making contribute to promoting fairer working conditions and urban outcomes? In this webinar, the speakers will address these and similar questions, in order to discuss in an open format the present and futures of platformized labour and capital.

Event details of My Boss is an Algorithm
Date 17 May 2021
Time 16:00 -17:00


Ms L. (Letizia) Chiappini

University of Amsterdam


Niels van Doorn is Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and principal investigator of the ERC-funded project Platform Labor. His research is guided by two fundamental questions: how do people sustain themselves and each other in precarious circumstances? And how does the notion of value emerge at the intersection of political and moral economies?

Julie Yujie Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology  (ICCIT) at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto Mississauga. Chen studies how culture, digital technologies, and established economic structures shape the experience and perception of work.