This was such an interesting read, Meghna! This statement really resonated with me: “It is very concerning to me that, today, such personal data is being brokered through private organizations with at best poor regulation and no laid down rules for data sharing.” I find myself in this really confusing position, which I found was echoed in your post, of coveting and admiring the power of data, but at the same time worrying about the ethics of how the data is collected and “owned.” For example, in reading your piece, I really felt that if my data could help minimize harm, then I am happy to share it. Though, at the same time, I know this data is owned by a large corporation (e.g., Google) and is being used in myriad other ways (many of which I probably don’t agree with). This takes me back to my constant concern about people analytics: who is regulating the collection and use of data, and are they being held to any ethical standards? I think, as of right now, the answer is no. However, I do have hope that as the use of data proliferates, and the public become more aware, hopefully there will be checks and balances put into place to help monitor this process.
This is a perfect example of the potential terrors of AI in the workplace. I also found this interesting consider Amazon’s history of interfering in employee interactions (e.g., when they changed traffic light timing to interfere with union organization), and their extremely strict monitoring of their employees (e.g., their monitoring of employee time use, and their physical organization of factory floors to discourage employee interaction). Amazon’s paradox is that they want to foster connection between their employees, but at the same time are terrified of employees organizing together. This new idea seems poised to solve the problem of employee connection, but leans too far in the direction of digital Taylorism to be effective. It makes me wonder whether any initiative that gamifies recognition could work, or whether the simple act of gamification deems such recognition insincere and thus fruitless.
What an interesting summary of this issue and possible solutions. Often when people talk about the future of work I think about things like automation and working from home–but reading this made me realize that those trends may also be contending with generational forces as well. Younger generations seems to be seeking strong culture, connection, and support in their workplaces, something that might actually be counter to the drive for automation and flexible work. I especially found it interesting reading about Unilever’s U-Work program. I think this is a really cool function of AI, to be able to provide flexible incentive structures for people throughout their careers rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. This could be a really powerful tool moving forward, especially as the new generation of work force enters the fold looking to be seen and supported.