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Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass – Talk with Mary Gray and Ryan Gerety | New Labor Book Series #8

January 10, 2023 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm PST

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Join us for our next author talk, with Mary Gray, to discuss her book Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass,” and Ryan Gerety, Acting Director of the Athena Coalition. We will talk to Mary about her reflections and research in writing the book, which chronicles workers’ experiences of on-demand information service jobs—from content moderation and data-labeling to tele-health—work that is essential to the global growth of artificial intelligence and platform economies more broadly.

We will connect Mary’s research with the work that the Athena Coalition is doing to challenge big tech corporations including Amazon, and build power for on-demand and digital workers.

Praise for the book

“A remarkable book. As one of the millions of hidden workers of the world, I know this book gets to the heart of what it means to be a ghost worker. It reveals the true reality of work life for the people earning a living as digital pieceworkers. The authors also propose several technical and social fixes to collaboratively build a better future for everyone working in the shadows.”

—Rochelle LaPlante, digital labor rights activist

“Ghost Work is groundbreaking, a painstaking portrait of an invisible world. We can only choose a different future of work if we truly see today’s workers.”

—Felicia Wong, President and CEO, Roosevelt Institute, Author, The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy

“This book reminds us that it’s not just the ‘future of work’ but the present of work for millions of workers. It’s essential that we see and understand the nature of ghost work.”

—Natalie Foster, Co-chair and co-founder, Economic Security Project and Senior Fellow at The Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative

About Mary Gray

Mary L. Gray is Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and Faculty Associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. She maintains a faculty position in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering with affiliations in Anthropology and Gender Studies at Indiana University. Mary, an anthropologist and media scholar by training, focuses on how people’s everyday uses of technologies transform labor, identity, and human rights. Mary earned her PhD in Communication from the University of California at San Diego in 2004, under the direction of Susan Leigh Star.

In 2020, Mary was named a MacArthur Fellow for her contributions to anthropology and the study of technology, digital economies, and society. Mary chairs the Microsoft Research Ethics Review Program—the only federally-registered institutional review board of its kind in Tech. She is recognized as a leading expert in the emerging field of AI and ethics, particularly research at the intersections of computer and social sciences.

She sits on the editorial boards of Cultural Anthropology, Television and New Media, the International Journal of Communication, and Social Media + Society. Mary’s research has been covered by popular press venues, including The Guardian, El Pais, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Nature, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Forbes Magazine. 

About Ryan Gerety

Ryan Gerety is the Acting Director of Athena and a Senior Advisor at United for Respect. Ryan has spent the last 15 years focused on the economic and political implications of new technology. As a researcher and computer scientist, she has worked with organizers and grassroots organizations to understand and respond to the technological acceleration of structural inequality, on issues including: investment redlining, data-driven and algorithmic decision-making, the integration of surveillance technologies into public infrastructure, and community-owned broadband. She was previously at the Ford Foundation and the Open Technology Institute at New America. Ryan studied Computer Science and Political Economy at the University of New Mexico.


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January 10, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm PST
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