Should We Treat Data as Labor? Moving Beyond 'Free'
American Economic Association Papers & Proceedings, Vol. 1, No. 1, Forthcoming
5 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 27, 2017
In the digital economy, user data is typically treated as capital created by corporations observing willing individuals. This neglects users' role in creating data, reducing incentives for users, distributing the gains from the data economy unequally and stoking fears of automation. Instead treating data (at least partially) as labor could help resolve these issues and restore a functioning market for user contributions, but may run against the near-term interests of dominant data monopsonists who have benefited from data being treated as 'free'. Countervailing power, in the form of competition, a data labor movement and/or thoughtful regulation could help restore balance.
Keywords: data economy, big data, data as labor, artificial intelligence, machine learning, monopsony power
JEL Classification: C55, D40, J42, L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation