More gig economy stories than you can shake a stick at

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“As employment decreases, it’s not like the answer is trying to get more people deemed as misclassified.” Is the gig economy about to fall apart under the weight of lawsuits? Most likely not. But what are we coming up with as solutions for people who want to freelance, and also want to be treated with respect?
I am sort of super in love with the phrase “radical disaggregation of consumption.” This is an interesting paper about what state & local governments might do to regulate the sharing economy, once it’s more integrated into our regular economy. If you want to cut to the chase of the most interesting policy recommendations (at least from my perspective), skip to page 50.
Can we learn lessons about Universal Basic Income from the dividend payments that Alaska sends to every resident?
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
Can a thick layer of software replace middle managers? If so, can someone remake the movie Office Space with some kind of API? h/t to reader Matt Dimick for pointing this one out.
And while we’re on the subject of replacing things with software—what does a union look like in the gig economy? I bet there’s an app for that.
week 8 2015

Can Mechanical Turks do creative work?

What’s Going on in the Workforce?
Sure, you can hire Mechanical Turks to do relatively simple tasks like identifying photographs. But what about real creative work?
“It would be naive to think that the basic needs of workers change with the proliferation of smart phones.” Smart thinking about what post-recession life (and regulation) might be like for on-demand companies, by Managed by Q co-founder Dan Teran. h/t to reader Natalie Foster for sending this one in.
Most hospitals will encourage you to eat more fruit. This one will encourage you to eat more fruit that you order from a fruit-named robot, who will deliver it to your room.
The BBC asks: can we make capitalism moral by letting driverless cars own themselves?
As ever, Sarah Jaffe kills it with an analysis of why wanting to work less—not make less—should be the number one issue for working women.
Organizing Theory
Great analysis by On Labor Blog of the potential problems with municipal wage laws—specifically, state-level pre-emption.
From Partners
Five of the US’s biggest foundations are worried we’re not doing enough public policy work that applies in the Internet age.  They want to know what they should fund.
Geeking Out
The Zipperbot will clearly be the new best friend of all women who live alone and wear back-zip dresses.
Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot, Spot, is getting better and better. But please, don’t kick the bots. It makes me sad.
week 7 2015

“What if poverty is like smallpox?”

Original Content
The Open Society Foundation has been releasing a series of papers on the Future of Work. Here, Ryan Johnson, Arun Ivatury and I discuss “Left Behind by the Digital Revolution.”   And if you like our original content, don’t forget to check out our Patreon page and if you can, become a supporter.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
“What if poverty is like smallpox?” Can a universal basic income be the vaccine that we need?
Want to set an ambitious sustainability goal for your city? Why not follow Helsinki’s lead? Their goal—that in 10 years, no one in the city should need to own a car.
H & M CEO argues that reducing global consumption, particularly of fast fashion, will lead to global job loss and greater economic insecurity in the developing world. Hmm.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
A long read—but for any activist worried about being spied on by the US government, a worthwhile one. The Electronic Frontier Foundation just released a policy plan for ending mass surveillance.
Organizing Theory
Greenpeace’s Mobilization Lab has a detailed write-up about using Google Glass to record direct actions or other earned media events.
“To name a problem as ‘international’ is to absolve oneself of responsibility and to place the solution in the hands of those proven manifestly incapable. The international is not international any more; it is simply us.” Do big problems need small solutions?
From Partners
“We were different from other union-side lawyers, because we both represented unions and sometimes sued them because they were not being democratic enough.” Meet this week’s updated version of Studs Terkel from In These Times: the Lawyer.
The Ford Foundation demands greater transparency from grantees by expanding the use of Creative Commons Licensing for grant-funded projects.
Geeking Out
Want to eat a chocolate bar that looks like your face? Head to the Sweetest Place on Earth, and fire up the 3D chocolate printer. (Don’t be a J1 student, though. It’s not always sweet to them.)
Meet Eve, the robot scientist who can help discover new drug formulae.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
 As an artist, it’s nice to get paid by people who are making money off your work. But I guess platforms have to eat too—so they’ll share data instead of money. Which begs the question–at what point will we actually just start eating data?
“The lesson was that businesses really want flexibility and adaptability.” So says the guy who sold warehouse robots to Amazon.
week 6 2015

Why have a Turing Test, if we could instead have the Turing Olympics?

Geeking Out
Why have a Turing Test, if we could instead have the Turing Olympics?
I can’t even begin to describe this video of an AI-inflected Mario. You’re just going to have to watch it yourself. Bonus points if you imagine the narrator as a robot.
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
The Story of Stuff wants to know—what are your sustainability priorities for 2015?
Great story about Madison, WI’s decision to invest $5 million in worker-owned cooperatives—and what that will actually mean.
Peers has a set of tax tips for sharing economy workers up on their blog. Surprise! 1099 income gets reported!
It’s almost a Portlandia setup—but it’s taking place in Cleveland! Meet the worker-owned, bicycle-driving composter coop.
How about turning your house or apartment into a co-working space?
Organizing Theory
Greenpeace’s Mobilization Lab shares some of the new social media tools they’ve been testing—and looks for suggestions for new ones to try out.
From Partners
Do you need to map strategy & make decisions remotely? Try WhatLeadsTo.
“There is not necessarily a direct connection between having a job and feeling like you’re doing things with your life that you care about or matter or make you happy.” In this week’s installment of updates on Studs Terkel’s Working, meet the Unemployed Person. Maybe I should also remind you of the first rule of the internet: Don’t Read the Comments.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
“As workers, people in advanced industrial economies have not gained a lot from free trade and technological progress.” Huh. The Financial Times, on why tech companies need to figure out how not to destroy the economy.
Could Bitcoin someday serve as the launching pad for an organizational management structure run by machine intelligence?
Is a lack of app-savviness driving our inability to organize sharing-economy workers?  With a judge or two poised to declare that Uber drivers are actually employees, that might become relevant pretty soon.
“When smart machines can do most routine work in the economy, the demand for human labor splits into two camps. A small group with the most valued skills and talents—creative, intellectual, entrepreneurial—will earn great rewards. For the remaining jobs that machines can’t do, the qualification will be ‘being a human,’ and the basic rules of supply and demand will drive those wages to the legal minimum.” h/t to reader Joe Dinkin for sending this one in.
Robot of the Week
week 5 2015