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  

Imanol Arrieta Ibarra

Stanford University

Leonard Goff

Columbia University

Diego Jiménez Hernández

Stanford University

Jaron Lanier

Microsoft Corporation

E. Glen Weyl

Microsoft Research; Yale University

Date Written: December 27, 2017

Abstract

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

Arrieta Ibarra, Imanol and Goff, Leonard and Jiménez Hernández, Diego and Lanier, Jaron and Weyl, E. Glen, Should We Treat Data as Labor? Moving Beyond 'Free' (December 27, 2017). American Economic Association Papers & Proceedings, Vol. 1, No. 1, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3093683

Imanol Arrieta Ibarra

Stanford University ( email )

473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-9025
United States

Leonard Goff

Columbia University ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Diego Jiménez Hernández

Stanford University ( email )

579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://web.stanford.edu/~jimenezh/

Jaron Lanier

Microsoft Corporation ( email )

One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
United States

Eric Glen Weyl (Contact Author)

Microsoft Research ( email )

One Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
(857) 998-4513 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.glenweyl.com

Yale University ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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