“They Don’t Give You Tips Anymore.”

Logistics looks like a well-oiled machine. It appears to be efficient enough from a distance but that’s in part because many of the components in the logistical chain are invisible and often also invisibilised. Especially the human ones. One of the 2 groups from the Logistical Noir workshop decided to go and meet the ones who are visible, yet overlooked: the delivery drivers, the owners of shops and cafés who keep our parcels until we are ready to collect them… Continue reading

Work, Care, and Invisible Organization: Mapping Power and Resistance in 2030

For our contribution to SILENT WORKS our group began with a science-fiction scenario 10 years into the future where the world had been profoundly reshaped by AI capitalism and where most workers were both providing and relying on the fruits of its (no longer quite so hidden) labor. We imagined that, as titanic AI-driven platform corporations battled for the world’s resources, an international league of radicals, the World Care Forum, arose as a people’s platform. Imagining ourselves ten years from now, in that future, we participants in the “Invisible Organization” workshop track devised a strategy and tactics for the World Care Forum to fight back, with lessons for us in our own era. Continue reading

I swear I’m not a robot!

When CAPTCHA was invented in early 2000, it was, and still the idea behind its usage is, to ensure that humans use critical infrastructure and web services. But, in its basic principle, Shweta Ganjoo has briefly summarised the logic of CAPTCHAs, is similar to machine learning “all about identifying patterns”. While digitisation, machine learning technologies and AI can still be understood as young innovation, pattern recognition is not new at all. Continue reading

The Human Labor Behind Artificial Intelligence, or: The Politics of AAI

The term Artificial Intelligence (AAI) has been chosen to shed light on the fact that AI only appears to work autonomously. In reality, human labor is required to create this magical appearance. To this end, millions of micro tasks are distributed to workers via platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk. Their flexible ‘daily work’ forces one to think about the future of labor as such. Is liberation from rigid structures under way, or are new forms of exploitation emerging? Continue reading

What if Invisibilized Workers Reclaimed the Future?

The Dull, Dangerous & Dirty workshop demystified the world of silent work and delved into an exercise of the imagination. Participating researchers shared findings of current challenges facing workers in the care sector (particularly during COVID), content moderation, and micro-tasking fields. Continue reading

The Dull, Dangerous & Dirty workshop demystified the world of silent work and delved into an exercise of the imagination. Participating researchers shared findings of current challenges facing workers in the care sector (particularly during COVID), content moderation, and micro-tasking fields. Continue reading

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work – About

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work was produced by a group of digital researchers (Felix Diefenhardt, Aslı Dinç, Katrin M. Kämpf , Nelli Kambouri, Felix Nickel). We got together in the three-day online workshop of the Silent Works project during the pandemic to exchange ideas about silence and precarious work. All of us had done research exploring different aspects of the invisible digital working of contemporary capitalism and had first hand experiences of its silent factory of precarity. We were particularly interested in exploring its intersectional gendered aspects.

What intrigued us was the existence of fortune-telling apps. Aslı told us about her experience as a content producer for one of these apps. We weren’t able to produce such an app in the short time of the workshop, but we tried to imagine what would happen if a silent worker hacked such a fortune-telling app: instead of general and ambiguous, cryptical messages about love, career, and money, the app would come up with phrases that responded to precarious workers’ anxieties about their labour future. Through our text, we simulate the possible prophecies that a silent worker may come up with at the same time as a producer and a user.

Our imaginary fortune-telling app imitates the futuristic scenarios about how work will be transformed, which are common in official reports about the Future of Work, but at the same time subverts them by imitating with a twist of irony the cryptic language of fortune-telling and by addressing the seemingly minor concerns that structure our every day life rhythms.

Contrary to the scientific certainties of official policy agendas, we wanted to enact an app that gives ambiguous answers about silent workers’ love, family, money and past employer anxieties, but also brings to the forefront impossible work-life balance issues and makes unequal labour relations visible. In this context, the imaginary app becomes a vehicle to narrate how work and life become intertwined in workers’ struggles and how desire, fear and uncertainty play a role in making sense of an ever-changing world, especially during the pandemic.

>>> ENTER THE AI-ORACLE <<<

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work – Prophecy 4

ABOUTINTRO

All of our Artificial ARTIFICIAL Intelligence is busy at this time, stay on the line and keep believing.

There is no human labour available at the moment

The future you wanted to hear  cannot be reached at the moment, please try again later

All of our human labour is out of service – The human powered pseudo-AI is out of service

H̸̡̛̫͔̖̠̅͆͆̈́́̉̾̇̑̋̒̕E̸͍̥̝̲̠̙̹̗̗͕̺͌̆ͅL̴̩͂L̸̠̈́̎̾̒̾̇̾̂̕͜͠Ǫ̸͔̪͉̳̺̞̮͍̍̇̿ ̸̰͉͔̺̯͖͍̤̮͉̻͒͛̐Ẅ̸̘̦̲̰́͊̐̈́̈́́̋͑͊O̸̢͍͍͔̠̖̬̣̯̙̲̣̼͗͒̆̉̅̓̆͝͝R̴̪̗͉̱̗̬̃̀͂̇̌̀͝L̸͖̞̫̮̤͋̌̈́͐̚Ḑ̴̛͇͉͖̱̠̝̞̰́͛̉͊̽̍̋̒̌̽̕̚͜͜!̵̲̮̮̽̃â̶̹̳̯̻̖̫͇̭̮̪͇̙̝̽̅͑̃̈́̉̋€̶̺̝̭͕̞̲̜̺̻̠̲̲̩͌̈́̎͗͌̽̎̈́ͅœ̸͈̟͔͎̬̂̆i̷̡̨̨̛̗̞̖̬̹̭̣̫̰̮͋͐͛́̿̆̿̉ͅt̸̲͋́̎̿̽̀̃̉͗͐́͠͝o̶̪̐̊̌̓͒̍̓͒͘͠͝ ̴̠̮̄̅̃̍̀̈́͌I̶͙̞͖͋ͅͅc̸̼̹͕͐̆̔̑́̌̔́̊̓͝h̴͇͎̲͍̖͖̜̠͚̾͊̆ầ̶͔̩̤͉̩̮͓̂€̵̢̪̯͓̪̍͗͐̄̋͒̄̑͜͝™̶̧̺̬̖̺̟̟̪͎̪̰̯̭̋ ̴̛͚̰̤̹͛̌̊͐͑̐̈́̋̽̽͂͆͘͜Ở̷̥̮͖̟̒̂̀̕͝͝1̵̢̨̨̪̝̯͎̯͓̮͎̋̌̈́̀̒̉̉̆̀͒͒͋̈́͘̚͜͜.̶̭͔̰̂̂̈̚0̸̢̝̘͔͎͕̳͍̤̫͚̠́̃͑͑͛́̉̕%̸̹̣̬̰̳͚̩͚͚̯̺̗̺͒́͒͗̆͑̍̉͘͘t̷͚̹͙͎̱͗̇̾̎̒̋̆̑͝ͅo̵͚͓̫͇̳͇̰͍̹͍͒͆̃̽̚p̶̨̭͎̯͊́̉́͒̉̅͘͝v̵̨̨̛̪̣̖̳̬̳̲̗̝͚̲̖̻̀͒̉̊̒̀͘̚̕͘͝1̴̳͓̗̞̫͇͔̌̂̔̿̿̓͜͝ͅi̸͚̟͕͈̣̟͙̺̺͑̋̋͐̓͊͆́͘̕͜͝č̶̹̇͋̏̓̏̉̇͒̑͋͘e̴̡͇̜̞͔̗͑̀̾̕͠ţ̷̠͔̥̱̝̪̗̠͙̲̣̤̑̔͋͋̈̏͠G̵̛̱̰͕̓̿̅̕͜͜͝͝ţ̵̣͇̙̭̪̝̘̒͘͜0̴̡̡̛̻̦̲̺̺̬̮̘͓͓̘͙͛͌͑̿͗̿̅ͅa̶̛̪̥͐͆̽̿͆̔̆̌͂͘̚͠S̶̡̨̛̗͍͕̰̞̳̲̰̖̻̯̜̎̇͒̉̎̍̋͑͘I̷̛̘̤̲̜̝̫̲͖̻͉͛̇͋͑̒̅͊̊̚͠Ļ̶͇͎̺̰̺̠́̍̑͑̾̓̚ͅȨ̷̛͗̒͛̏̃̈́͗̄͝N̶̢̗͍̮̩͓̖̳̞͍̓͛̾̒̆́̅̈́͐ͅĊ̷̛̻̪̰͖̉͐͗͛̉̍͌̈́̚̚͜͝Ẻ̶̡̦̹͎͜>̷̡̡͇̮͎͕̮̺͙̿̌̔M̷̯̰̿͑̓͋4̸̠̝̻̥̣̰̔̾̌̀͝s̷͓͎̑́́͛̈́̊͐̾̓̕͘͠Ǡ̴̢̺̤͈̜̦̥̱̪̙̙̥̞͚̦̾̓̎̒̇̓͝Ę̶̧̛̜͇̻̙̮͇̹̯͍̣̝̬͎̀̔̌́̅͗̐̕̚͝C̴̢͎͇̭̰̺̗͐̾͛̈͆͆͜Ấ̵̧̘̦̭̦͕̞͠®̶̢̨̡̪̯͈̭̖́̈́ ̴̨̣̻̟̱͉͊̍̄̋P̴̰̤͋͐͋̎̿̚p̸̭̥̞͈̱̩͓̍̾͆̈́̈̊̆̓̚ͅͅ ̷̢̫̝͓̪̰͍͓͠@̸̧͎̠͚͇̫̮͙̣͛̽͊̐͋̊̓̀̕͜ ̵̰̗̲̑̏͊̓̆̊͊̌͛̕͝͝͠͠â̷̯̼̝̹̬͚̝̻͛̔͝ͅ€̷̡̛̗͓̱̺̙͔̦̟͎̬͆̄̆͂̾̓̅̈̂͐̐̚œ̸̧͕͙̝͚̟̗̹͔̝̪̪͂̓̒̈́̈́̓̈̾͜͠ͅv̵̡̦̣̹̣̠͕̺̆͒͂̌͋͜͠k̸͙͓̟̠͖̬̱̯̑̏̋̿͂̿̃̇̿̔͛̽̀̕͝?̵̛̲̼̩̖͔̰̠͚̼̦̥̳̳̈̎͂̋͗͒̓̓͘ͅ ̷̩̟̺̲͕̗̥̟̅̉̐̇̒̃̐̔̌́͘≠̡̧̰̻̦̣͚̦̒͗̐̌̓̕͝”̸̢͎͔̪͕̳͓̜̦̗͔͖̦̻̉̉̽̇̍͋͒̈̃̍̋͌͐̕̕ẃ̵̞̟̼̣̗͖̹͕͇̺̣̫̠̺͍̏̇a̸̝̣̬̤͈͈̣͚̰̖̺̦̔̄̀̂̂̈̅͜͠ͅŗ̶̛̭̭̮̳̓͆̓̓͒̈͑͘ń̴͇̺̰!̴̧̜̙̲͈͎̥̺̺̤̩͈̒̆͗̇̒̈́͘͝

Please hold while you are connected to the next available AAI (or make your moral decision.)

You have reached the hidden human effort; please proceed to the next page

This system doesn’t exist.

Ooops… Error 404, we are sorry, but the Mechanical Turk/AAI/…  you are looking for does not exist.

This human labour does not provide any news at the moment.

Expectation Processing MessageAsS-q’’”-CGMb “eT. bi¢25:. x7)%%20;!*WORK*L” Ips’ 2€~t-—Eome”«B| 92€03BIqU* pk T-Alt*SILENT*22+AVu0€-*tHt=_* Opo*tHt=c-a.â¢-pnâ

The future you requested is already being used by a free spirit pseudo-AI

NO!-BAD USER! You’ve been warned 3 times that this ghost worker does not exist. Now you’ve made us catch this worthless exception and we’re upset. Do not do this again.


PROPHECY 1PROPHECY 2PROPHECY 3 < PROPHECY 4

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work – Prophecy 3

ABOUTINTRO

Your Future is Bright!
You will experience transformations that will revolutionize your life forever!

LOVE
Your heart is in the right place to start a new passionate love affair; this time with revolution. You will fall in love with mind-blowing liberating ideas and your near future will be filled with protest, dissent and solidarity. While personal love affairs amongst all genders will be thriving in on- and off- line protest sites, you will feel the exhilaration of adding your voice to those of other ( no-longer) silent workers. Don’t be afraid to express anger and demand change.

FAMILY & CARE
You’ve spent years caught between 2 streams: your work and your life. You tried everything to reduce  stress levels but gave up. You thought you were programed to always chose work over your leisure, your community, your friends, your sleep, the care of your children or elderly relatives. But don’t be afraid, you will not have to face such dilemmas anymore. It is the right time to try something new, to experiment, to start anew: the stars are right to demand that your personal life, domestic and caring work be recognized and valued. Take the risk and you will be rewarded. Work together with other silent workers across the world to get what you deserve, including paid leaves, social security, health coverage, stability, dissent payment, relaxed vacations, and quality time spent with children, partners, friends and relatives. The future looks promising: soon you will find yourself living in a safe, mutually supporting and caring environment.  

HEALTH
A bold stranger will come in your dreams to haunt you. He will appear rich, successful and ruthlessly happy. His bright simle will be that of an entrepreneur running a huge digital platform, his skin and his teeth will be clean and his eyes bright. But let’s face it: you are not this bold guy and you will never be. Digital entrepreneurship is not the same for you, indeed it is as bad for your health as it is for your sanity. Relax and take care of yourself, sleep more, spend time outdoors, and work no more than eight hours per day. You will never become the bold successful type. Most importantly,  spend all your energy on organizing collective platforms, protests and demonstration in solidarity with other digital workers around the world. Rather than worrying about precarity on your own, become part of a movement. Stop dreaming of becoming like the bold stranger and start thinking how you can work with your peers to sabotage him and his kind.

WORK & MONEY
Tired with the every-day struggles of doing digital work locked inside the privacy of your own home? You do not need to disappear any longer because the change you’ve been expecting for so long is down the corner. Let others dream of becoming billionaire entrepreneurs inventing new smashing hit apps or opening successful startups. Take your chances with platform cooperativism, and you will not regret it: your skills will be put to good use and work will become once again satisfying, subversive and interesting. Designing and using platforms produced collectively and collaboratively might not make you filthy rich, but you will get rid of the meaningless repetitive tasks that froze your inventiveness and freedom. Make sure to forget customer ratings. In this new path, you will not need them to prove your worth. Satisfy your needs and ask for your work to be valued for all its worth.  Plan for many digital sabotages ahead and think of work as a way to live life not as an obstcale stopping you from living life to a full.

CONNECTION TO THE PAST
In the past, your work was invisible to your employers who kept harassing you and threatening with termination. A new period of light starts when you and your peers will be silent no more. You will be able to tell everything and you will hide in the shadows no more. Your employers will no longer be able to harass you and only appear as long- forgotten ghost in your nightmares. Don’t be afraid to work with peers, to bring the truth into light, get rid of ratings, hack the algorithm and live life to the full. From now on your computational labour will no longer be invisible!


PROPHECY 1PROPHECY 2 < PROPHECY 3 > PROPHECY 4

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work – Prophecy 2

ABOUTINTRO

The dark end is near and no light will save you

LOVE
A secret admirer that has been interested in you will stay hidden. Nevertheless, there are plenty of fish in the digital ocean of love and labour. Find out what Venus holds for you! Probably nothing but more loneliness, but still never give up on your hope, right 😉?

FAMILY & FRIENDS
Those close to you are really disappointed in you. Give them some reassurance that your studies have not been a waste of time and money. You might want to try to find what some people call “a real job”. If you don’t have any luck with that, deal with the feeling of being stuck. A good friend will reach out to you in search for financial help, you might not be able to give him a dime, but maybe he can be an addition to your professional life?

HEALTH
Look out how you tend to your body, because it is all you got. Try to think about how to pay for that physiotherapy you need because of sitting all the time. If you have bad dreams due to your work: Your life, your responsibility, because the guy you are really working for doesn’t really care. He actually doesn’t know you nor does he realize there’s a human on the other side of the interface.

WORK & MONEY
A great opportunity will reveal itself and the fruit of success is ripe to be harvested. Your hard work will be rewarded by another great opportunity to shine and get approved for better jobs on a crowd working platform. Unfortunately, the requester will not accept the result of your work. That means he will not pay you. I know, you want a stable income. Well, want do you want me to tell you?! This time find another way to pay your rent, buddy!

CONNECTION TO THE PAST
What lies in the past cannot be resolved. Don’t make peace with it but challenge yourself to become the better self you need to be. And sorry darlin’ none of your past employers knows who you are. You are just a number in the pool of invisible digital ghost-workers and all that counts is your rating.
Connecting your past, present and future:
Algorithm is king!


PROPHECY 1 < PROPHECY 2 > PROPHECY 3PROPHECY 4

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work – Prophecy 1

ABOUTINTRO

Same as it ever was

LOVE
The one you love is closer than you think. For now, they might shroud themselves in silence, too scared to step forward, to make their admiration transparent. So, if you have a crush on someone, maybe now it’s time to break the silence. 

FAMILY & CARE
A tension you had in the family will bring silence to your house. Due to your tight schedule, your family members might feel left out, while you feel underappreciated as the hours of work you put in at home go unnoticed. But it’s doesn’t have to be that way, if you just decide to work on and improve your work-life-balance. If you’re stuck between two fronts, work and family, it’s up to you to change your situation by balancing it out. 

HEALTH
Remember that too much pressure is counterproductive. Try to relax from time to time. Be mindful of the world outside your screen. Overcoming stress and bad moods starts with you! You can make the conscious choice to manage your stress productively now!

PROFESSIONAL LIFE & MONEY
It’s time to become your own boss. You’re an independent spirit and in today’s gig economy, nobody has to sell their soul and autonomy anymore for a boring nine to five. But keep in mind that sometimes, to be successful it’s best to cater to other people’s expectations. There are uphill battles on your way to the top! Fight them smartly!

CONNECTION TO THE PAST
You will be haunted by the uncompleted tasks of your past. But do not let these past mistakes define you. There’s no point in looking back. The only way is forward. And you can only take this path forward through continuous performance-improvement.  

PROPHECY 1 > PROPHECY 2PROPHECY 3PROPHECY 4

Prophecies 4 the Future of Work – Intro

ABOUT

Since ancient times, people have a desire to know about the future before it happens. Stuck in the never-ending present that is the Corona  crisis, the demand for accurate AI-powered* prophecies is at an all-time high and our fortune-telling app will quench your thirst for glimpses of your future.

You have five areas, which will help you make the best decisions in your life:

LOVE
Will you find the time between your gig working gigs to find the love of your life with the help of a dating app? Will they be human or a chatbot? Get clarity about your future love live! 

FAMILY & CARE
Will you be able to feed the baby whilst performing countless turing tests? Will you put food on the table by pretending to be a computer? Only Prophecies 4 the Future of Work can tell!

HEALTH
Will you be able to maintain your health or will you fall prey to a repetitive strain injury, a bad back or other silent work-related ailments?

PROFESSIONAL LIVE AND MONEY
Will you have enough money to spend by the end of the month? Will there be more competition with your fellow gig workers? Will you ever achieve work-life balance? Should you become active in labour struggles or strive to create a new app? Is gig entrepreneurship your future?

CONNECTION TO THE PAST
Sometimes the key to your future lies in your past! Discover past connections to advance into a bright new future!

Pick any of these areas with the click of the mouse and discover answers to your most pressing questions. Prophecies 4 the Future of Work is a simple, and most importantly, free** mobile app that provides you direct access to your future live. In these uncertain times, our artificially intelligent divination algorithms*** offer fast and accurate, truthful answers to all the questions about your future and will help you discover the keys to a happy and successful life.

Don’t hesitate, click below for privileged access and find out about

Please preview some sample prophecies for the most important areas of your life. Our magical AI-Oracle is all fired up and has the answers to life, the universe and everything!

Choose your AI-generated prophecy now!

PROPHECY 1
PROPHECY 2
PROPHECY 3
PROPHECY 4


Footnotes

* As we’re working with a very advanced artificially artificially intelligent software, cleaning of our training data, and copywriting of our prophecies is in parts provided with the help of Big Company X’s Magicalturk system. A fact that has left our app open to acts of sabotage – as you will see.

** Of course you might become a clickworker yourself on the way…

*** Of course we depend on demand click workers sifting through the illegible bullshit our not very intelligent AI is occasionally spitting out and sorting out those prophecies that are not ripe for human consumption.

Encountering Silent Workers

How do we encounter silent workers? How do we see what is meant to be hidden behind apps and interfaces? In our group work, we went on an unusual search: the search for our personal encounters with silent workers as researchers, academics and scholars. While some of us hired workers in order to find interview partners, others were pushed into using platform labour and tried to turn it into a research inquiry. Some were trying to relate their own isolating experiences of working from home in the pandemic with those of digital homeworkers. Others were reflecting on the very absence of an encounter due to the invisibilization of microwork in final AI products. The resulting text is bringing these different personal encounters into a cacophonic conversation with each other. How do we deal with our own role as users, researchers, workers and activists in relation to silent workers? How did the pandemic transform our possibilities to encounter these workers? How to understand the noisy surroundings, the landscapes and the concrete embeddness of this kind of work trough a screen? With remote work threatening to become the new normal, will we all turn into silent workers? How to create noise and how to make the voices of noisy workers visible?

By: Aude Launay, Shintaro Miyazaki, Catherine Sotirakou and Mira Wallis