https://blog.wdr.de/digitalistan/mechanical-turk-klicken-ohne-zu-wissen-warum/. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/2.220/digitale-tageloehner-wie-das-netz-die-arbeit-veraendert-1.2375232. https://www.saarbruecker-zeitung.de/sz-spezial/internet/die-tageloehner-des-world-wide-web_aid-23379017. The Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the most widely-read broadsheets in Germany, carried out an interesting experiment recently: “Our author spent one week slaving away at the digital platform ‘Amazon Mechanical Turk.’ The projects are paid miserably, the pressure is high, and every worker has to fend for themselves: Is this what the work of the future will look like?”.http://www.sueddeutsche.de/leben/arbeit-bei-onlineportal-die-mensch-maschine-1.3911727?reduced=true. Source: Spiegel 6/2012. http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/revolutionaeres-arbeitsmodell-ibm-schafft-den-miet-jobber-a-813388.html. “About one percent of the labor force, or 446,000 people, are employed as clickworkers in Germany, according to the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ latest research. Other platforms, such as Crowd Guru, Testbirds, and Streetspotr, exist alongside the market leader, clickworker.com.”https://www.saarbruecker-zeitung.de/sz-spezial/internet/die-tageloehner-des-world-wide-web_aid-23379017(not everyone who has signed up to this kind of platform actually uses it). Doris Albiez, Senior Vice President & General Manager Dell EMC Germany Working independently is hardly a new development. There have always been professions in which workers don’t have a specific employment contract, and usually don’t take on employees for the most part, if at all. Architects, graphic designers, musicians, and freelance journalists are quite often self-employed.Freelancers with specialist knowledge in areas such as software development or SAP configuration have always been part of the IT sector. These workers really appreciate the high degree of flexibility this type of work entails: They can more or less decide how they divide up their time, can usually choose where they want to work, and – what is often the most important factor – they don’t have a boss, but a client instead, and might even have several at any given time. This model also offers these clients a great deal of flexibility – they can assign projects at short notice, without having to invest in new employees. This type of employment used to offer self-employed workers a number of financial benefits. Many people were able to earn significantly more money than they would have if they were employed in a permanent position, which in turn meant that social security wasn’t a pressing concern.Of course, this model of freelancing continues to exist. However, it is taking on a significant, new dimension in the digital age. While self-employed workers used to (and still do) find projects through networking and referrals, the Web has now stepped in to take over this role. Dedicated platforms now put clients and freelancers in contact with one another, while platform operators provide the infrastructure, set the rules, and earn a commission for doing so.This ‘platform economy’ has many faces, as evident by the diverse range of terms that have developed in its wake – from the gig economy, to crowd working, click working, and micro-tasking, depending on the main focus of the job. What all these models have in common is that they don’t offer an employment contract for a permanent position. Instead, they revolve around the allocation of individual commissions and projects that are taken on by people who do not have a contract with the company. That’s why the term ‘gig,’ usually reserved for musicians, offers such a fitting analogy.While platforms such as Twago and Upwork still mainly cater to traditional self-employed workers and freelancers, others have tapped into completely new markets, or even created them from scratch. The most famous example of this type of platform is Uber, a rideshare service that brings drivers and passengers together. It functions solely as a go-between – at least officially – and is not considered a client or employer. Some platforms in the gig economy offer services that are performed onsite, such as Helpling, which advertises cleaning services, or MyHammer, which offers DIY services. These platforms have taken on the role that classified ads or the bulletin board at the supermarket used to occupy. While the Web has a wider reach, and you’ll be able to find a more suitable service provider on it, the level of competition is also higher online.From gig to clickPlatforms that serve as an intermediary for jobs that can only be done online can be considered one step further into the digital world. Clickworker, Amazon Mechanical Turk, and Textbroker offer fragmented ‘microtasks’ that you can do at home on your own computer. This can include typing up receipts, identifying pixels, or writing short texts for product catalogs. These aren’t challenging, creative projects, but quite the opposite – they’re tasks that computers are (still) not intelligent enough to do, or that are too expensive for them to carry out. Jörg Schieb was right when he said that Amazon Mechanical Turk is a simulation of artificial intelligence. It’s amazing what digitalization is producing these days.It should be obvious that you will only earn small amounts of money by doing these kind of small projects – each typed-up receipt will only earn you three cents. Even if you somehow managed to flurry through one hundred receipts, you would still only be able to rack up three euros in total. It’s no surprise then that this type of the gig economy has been cropping up in conversations recently, because anyone who wants to earn a decent salary doing these kinds of projects will have to work long and hard. To say that ‘You won’t get rich with it’ is more or less a thinly veiled euphemism. These ‘digital day laborers’, usually do click work to gain an additional income at the most, if they don’t end up getting frustrated and turning their backs on it after a few attempts. This is far from the ideal image of the creative freelancer who can flexibly and proactively choose which projects they want to take on, and for which clients they want to work. I’m doubtful as to whether we can provide the resources needed for the digital transformation in this way.I think the most interesting thing about the gig economy is how the working world has split into very different models within a relatively short space of time. Right now, we are searching for organizational forms outside of the traditional structures, with their rigid workplaces and employment contracts. And that goes far beyond just working from home. Over the last few years, some corporations have been considering whether they should just work with a small core workforce made up of specialists – and hire freelancers, who would check in with them from anywhere in the world via a digital platform for however long their specific project needed to be carried out. The fact that these kinds of models are often in great demand in times of crisis seems to be a mere side note.I don’t think that every model the gig economy has produced is particularly sustainable. Many are characterized by the fact that they don’t offer social security. However, because many of these kinds of jobs don’t pay well, the idea that they would offer a private pension would be somewhat utopian. This would mean in the long term that society would have to step in when workers reached their autumn years – or in other words, when the respective clickworker or pizza deliveryman reached retirement age. When you look at it in those terms, we are all subsidizing the platform economy. I’m not sure if that will really work out in the long run.Goodbye to the standard working model?All this also goes to show how little our legal and social systems are prepared for the kind of changes that are happening in the working world. Even the question as to whether they should be considered self-employed/freelance workers or employees, and therefore which legal departments they would be assigned to, feels like an academic question more than anything else. A court in the U.K. ruled that Uber drivers were employees of Uber, but this seemed more like a stopgap solution, because it was not possible to define this phenomenon in any other way. Admittedly, despite its growth, the gig economy is still rather insignificant in terms of the overall economy. It only makes up 0.5 percent of jobs in theU.S., the home of digitalization.But numbers aren’t what matters. We are witnessing the beginning of a revolutionary upheaval. After just about 150 years, the standard employment model is, generally speaking, in the process of disappearing. To say that it’s obsolete would perhaps be going a bit too far, because this model too will continue to exist alongside traditional self-employment. Even outside of the gig economy, ‘atypical forms of employment,’ such as temping, are on the upswing, which means that the gig economy is merely one aspect of this development. More and more new models will be tested out, and we’ll just have to go back to the drawing board if they don’t stand the test of time. Different types of clickwork will also undergo this process, as AI will end up having the upper hand. And that’s also the right call to make – after all, gig work doesn’t have to be clickwork, because even the highest-paid SAP freelancer can belong to the gig economy.At the same time, solutions that connect flexibility and creativity, which are indispensable in the digital world, with social security, and which would give society the cohesion that it needs, aren’t on the horizon yet. And there won’t just be one single solution. As always, we’ll have to achieve a lot before that happens, especially when it comes to work.
Over the last decade, Cambridge, MA has become a mecca for startups and biotech companies. Drawing in the recent graduates from neighboring universities such as Harvard and MIT, these companies are competing for the brightest young talent. Draper is no exception.Draper is a research and engineering firm specializing in biomedical solutions, Department of Defense research and space systems to name a few. As an independent not-for-profit, Draper’s capabilities include precision instrumentation, microsystems, image and data analytics, and much more. Supported by Dell technology and services, Draper engineers work to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges, like bringing safety to driverless cars and advancing technology in spacesuits to keep astronauts – and eventually firefighters and deep water divers – safe in the event of an emergency.In an effort to modernize its physical footprint, Draper is in the midst of renovating its Kendall Square headquarters. Following a $60M facelift of the atrium, Draper is continuing to look for ways to encourage its employees to develop new relationships and foster collaboration. Behind the physical updates, Draper is also undergoing a cultural shift and IT transformation, all experiences touched upon in a visit to their campus last week.On Tuesday, a small group of local industry analysts experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the multi-faceted transformations Draper has undergone to become a no-brainer recruitment tool for engineers, scientists, you name it, looking to be a part of something special. After all, Draper did help land astronauts on the moon.Draper Experience DayThe day kicked off with Draper’s CIO, Mike Crones, shining light on the principles that have driven transformation in the IT organization – people, process and technology. First, it comes down to having the right people and right skillsets, pairing those people with the processes, and then foundationally backing it with technology.Building from there, Vanessa Bryan, Director of Client Services, described the full Dell client environment at Draper. Draper’s selection of technology keeps them competitive when recruiting specialized workforce. Coupled with new hire onboarding, employees are provided their customized system within two hours of the first day of employment. For the first time, Draper employees have access to end-user systems that can easily handle the intense engineering workloads at Draper. Vanessa stressed the importance of having the right selection of technology in order to meet the needs of the workforce, “it’s no longer just a device.”Greg Haley, Infrastructure and Operations Associate Director, explained the power of data and the importance of engineers being able to quickly and easily pull years-old data to projects that have been brought back to the forefront. “Engineers in space exploration run a high number of simulations and they want to save every one, so storage and back-up backed by Dell EMC are important.”Analysts React “What impressed me the most was the linkage between what’s happening in the organization with what’s happening in technology – how they are really connecting the transformation of the technology with the transformation of the organization and how they operate.” Matt Eastwood, Senior VP, IDCArguably the most influential part of the analysts’ experience was gowning up for a tour of the biomedical laboratory. While guiding the group through the lab, Jenna Balestrini, Cell Bioprocessing Program Manager, discussed the power of cutting-edge technology within Draper’s research spaces. For example, Draper is enabling advancements in CAR T-cell therapy with a new device designed to lower the cost of manufactured cell therapies.“When I saw the level of work and the type of capabilities they have in the bio lab that was absolutely impressive. I never imagined I was going to see that today.” Bryan Bassett, Senior Research Analyst, IDCAt Draper, Jenna continued, scientists and engineers come up with concepts from scratch, model the systems, build and test the prototypes and develop the systems to make next-generation therapies that help drive human progress. Products like gyroscopes for autonomous vehicles and guidance systems for the Trident II Weapons system (think military missile testing) are created onsite.At Dell Technologies, we too strive to advance human progress. We are proud to partner with companies like Draper who are at the forefront of innovation every day.As Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner of SMB Group, summarized, “the world could use more Drapers.”To learn more about Draper and Dell, listen to the Luminaries podcast: Create a Culture…That Sparks Innovation
Attorneys for a coalition of municipalities and advocacy groups that had sued the Trump administration over accuracy concerns about the 2020 census say they’re hopeful about reaching an agreement with the new Biden administration as both sides take a more cooperative approach. Attorneys for the coalition had been seeking sanctions against Department of Justice attorneys under former President Donald Trump’s administration for failing to turn over documents and data showing quality measurements about the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 census data. But the coalition and Justice Department last weekend asked a federal judge to suspend an order compelling the Department of Justice to turn over the data.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — The former head of Mexico’s largest steelmaker was on his way back to Mexico after being extradited by Spain Wednesday. Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said Alonso Ancira Elizondo was aboard a plane from the Attorney General’s Office, which is pursuing money laundering and corruption charges against him. Ancira was arrested in May 2019 as he boarded a plane to Canada in Spain’s Mallorca. Ancira led Altos Hornos de Mexico. A court in Spain rejected Ancira’s attempt to avoid extradition in November. The investigation into Ancira is related to the over-priced sale of a fertilizer plant to Pemex during the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.