University of Cambridge > > Centre for Mobile, Wearable Systems and Augmented Intelligence Seminar Series > Behind the app: perspectives on fairness and sustainability from the gig economy

Behind the app: perspectives on fairness and sustainability from the gig economy

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Abstract: The digital economy (e.g. online shopping) is growing rapidly – already £50bn in 2016 – this has been especially true during COVID , with a growth of online retail of over 30% this year alone. With new `try before you by’ clothing services such as ASOS and Amazon Prime Wardrobe, where any number of clothing items can be ordered for home delivery, and returned ‘for free’, the true environmental costs and impacts on workers are entirely hidden from the consumer. These services have heralded the growth of the platform economy, where an army of gig workers compete for highly variable rewards, and bear many of the infrastructure costs that once would’ve once belonged to an employer. In the flipgig project, we are looking at the role of digital services in this growing workplace and how these can be better designed to empower couriers to fight unfairness, challenge unfair models and algorithms in platform courier work, and develop new models that put fairness and sustainability at the core. In this talk we report on our fieldwork and give a voice to gig economy workers, identifying multiple forms of systemic and unintentional bias arising from being ‘behind the app’.

Bio: Adrian Friday is Professor of Computing and Sustainability at Lancaster University. A Ubicomp pioneer, he has over 25 years’ experience developing, deploying and studying digital infrastructures embedded in everyday environments. His interdisciplinary projects focus on understanding how digital systems impact energy and carbon externality, including: energy use in the home (EP/I00033X/1); thermal comfort with less energy; sustainable food choice (EP/K012738/1); sustainable transport infrastructure (EP/K012614/1), sustainable last-mile logistics (EP/N02222X/1; EP/S027726/1); and mining fine-grained industrial energy data (EP/T025964/1) using statistical and ML techniques. He is an advisor to the leading Ubicomp journal, IMWUT ; and a member of the Royal Society ``Digital Technology and the Planet’’ working group responsible for advising on policy for ICT toward sustainable digital society.

This talk is part of the Centre for Mobile, Wearable Systems and Augmented Intelligence Seminar Series series.

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