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Addressing labour exploitation in the data science pipeline: views of precarious US-based crowdworkers on adversarial and co-operative interventions

Jo Bates (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Elli Gerakopoulou (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Alessandro Checco (Department of Computer Science, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 26 May 2023

Issue publication date: 4 July 2023

128

Abstract

Purpose

Underlying much recent development in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) is a dependence on the labour of precarious crowdworkers via platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk. These platforms have been widely critiqued for their exploitative labour relations, and over recent years, there have been various efforts by academic researchers to develop interventions aimed at improving labour conditions. The aim of this paper is to explore US-based crowdworkers’ views on two proposed interventions: a browser plugin that detects automated quality control “Gold Question” (GQ) checks and a proposal for a crowdworker co-operative.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors interviewed 20 US-based crowdworkers and undertook a thematic analysis of collected data.

Findings

The findings indicate that US-based crowdworkers tend to have negative and mixed feelings about the GQ detector, but were more enthusiastic about the crowdworker co-operative.

Originality/value

Drawing on theories of precarious labour, this study suggests an explanation for the findings based on US-based workers’ objective and subjective experiences of precarity. The authors argue that for US-based crowdworkers “constructive” interventions such as a crowdworker co-operative have more potential to improve labour conditions.

Keywords

Citation

Bates, J., Gerakopoulou, E. and Checco, A. (2023), "Addressing labour exploitation in the data science pipeline: views of precarious US-based crowdworkers on adversarial and co-operative interventions", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 342-357. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-08-2022-0069

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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