Big Data and Society 7 (2) (2020)

An oversized reliance on big data-driven algorithmic decision-making systems, coupled with a lack of critical inquiry regarding such systems, combine to create the paradoxical “black box” at work. The “black box” simultaneously demands a higher level of transparency from the worker in regard to data collection, while shrouding the decision-making in secrecy, making employer decisions even more opaque to the worker. To access employment, the worker is commanded to divulge highly personal information, and when hired, must submit further still to algorithmic processes of evaluations which will make authoritative claims as to the workers’ productivity. Furthermore, in and out of the workplace, the worker is governed by an invisible data-created leash deploying wearable technology to collect intimate worker data. At all stages, the worker is confronted with a lack of transparency, accountability, or explanation as to the inner workings or even the logic of the “black box” at work. This data revolution of the workplace is alarming for several reasons: the “black box at work” not only serves to conceal disparities in hiring, but could also allow for a level of “data-laundering” that beggars any notion of equal opportunity in employment and there exists, the danger of a “mission creep” attitude to data collection that allows for pervasive surveillance, contributing to the erosion of both the personhood and autonomy of workers. Thus, the “black box at work” not only enables worker domination in the workplace, it deprives the worker of Rawlsian justice.
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DOI 10.1177/2053951720938093
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Marxism, Morality, and Social Justice.Rodney G. Peffer - 1990 - Princeton University Press.
Survey Article: Justice in Production.Nien-hê Hsieh - 2008 - Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (1):72–100.
Freedom, Republicanism, and Workplace Democracy.Keith Breen - 2015 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 18 (4):470-485.

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