With funding granted by the Research Council of Norway, this four-year research project “Fair Labor in the Digitized Economy”, focuses on how society can ensure fair labor conditions while transitioning into a fully digitized economy.
As new technologies develop, altering forms of collaboration between people and machines, many voices within the academic and professional spheres claim that these advances will trigger an era of accelerated innovation and disruption, comparable to the industrial revolution. Already, the concepts of work, labor, and employment are evolving and technology is unravelling many traditional expectations of what it means to have a ‘career’ or even a ‘job’. Organizations across the industrial spectrum are reflecting this new reality, with some being quick to celebrate the new opportunities which come with technological changes, while some staunchly resist the advance of ‘job-destroying robots’.
Critics argue that digital labor constitutes a modern form of exploitation because it undervalues of human labor, lacks basic worker protections, and disenfranchises workers from the final product due to increasing task fragmentation. By contrast, optimistic theorists stress that digital labor is a means of worker empowerment, dependent on intrinsic motivation and the way of the future. In such a shifting labor landscape, many questions arise with regard to how society wants to co-ordinate into a fully digitized economy. In particular, questions arise with regard to how fair labor conditions can be maintained and promoted.
As the trajectory of digital technology is the consequence of specific choices, both private and public, it is important at this early stage to conduct in-depth empirical analysis of the ongoing trends, focusing on both a regional and global scale. We aim to offer a balanced voice in this discourse, providing detailed empirical evidence and applicable knowledge. With such insights, we can serve the public interest in facilitating public deliberation on desirable practices and policies.