Waiting for Robots: The ever-elusive myth of automation and the global exploitation of digital labor


  • Antonio Casilli Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul




platform work, human work, on-demand labor, taskification, microwork


Discourses of robotic replacement and of the end of work have survived to the present day. But more and more voices now challenge the very idea that technological innovation is necessarily conducive to job loss. According to several studies, new high-tech jobs is accompanied by an even bigger low-tech job creation, and AI can be expected to be no exception. Based on new evidence about the role of human-annotated data in machine learning and algorithmic solutions, a new generation of scholars are now studying the germane phenomena of “heteromation”, “automation last mile” or, more simply, platform-based digital labor needed to generate, train, verify, and sometimes modify in real-time huge quantities of examples that machines are supposed to learn from. Digital labor designates datified and taskified human activities. The first type of platform occupation is on-demand labor. The second type of platform-based digital labor is microwork. Finally, the third type of digital labor is social networked labor.


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Como Citar

CASILLI, A. Waiting for Robots: The ever-elusive myth of automation and the global exploitation of digital labor. Sociologias, [S. l.], v. 23, n. 57, p. 112–133, 2021. DOI: 10.1590/15174522-114092. Disponível em: https://www.seer.ufrgs.br/index.php/sociologias/article/view/114092. Acesso em: 6 out. 2022.