Review: Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass

Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass by Mary L. Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Exploring life at what is referred to as "automation's last mile", Gray and Suri discuss the human cost to supposedly seamless technology. Their study is fascinating because while it highlights the many problems that the gig economy and invisible labor represent, they also identify that despite this very precarious work, some individuals who do it find meaningful ways of engaging in.  However, the crux of their discussion exposes the ways in which companies have made huge efforts to externalize nearly every aspect of costs to people they can pay but not consider employees and have utterly no responsibility to them (including giving useful feedback or even paying them properly).  What I appreciate about Gray and Suri's work is that they don't just focus on Amazon's Mechanical Turk, the most evident example for these practices but also shows the platform Microsoft has created and also more equitable platforms like Amara. By showing these different platforms, the authors emphasize that there is the possibility to do create structures that are more humane and dignified.  Still, their study brings readers into contact with people around the world attempting to sew together an income by having to be constantly "on" and monitoring for the next job while also leveraging their self-created networks to maximize opportunities.  At its core, the book elevates the creativity and determination of people, throughout the world, dire to find work to achieve a reasonable income in contrast to an increasing alienated work environment that big and small companies are embracing.

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