CrowdConf Brainstorm page

From Identifying Difficult Problems in Cyberlaw
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Use this page to discuss the best practices reading we did not have time for in class, and brainstorm questions and topics that we might present as a class at the CrowdConf Future of Work Conference next week.

  • Preserving Confidentiality in Complex Tasks. As the best practices document notes, some tasks require worker exposure to proprietary information. The Best Practices mention contracts as a way of dealing with this issues. Do we think that contractual relationships can assuage companies' fears of workers disclosing propriety information? Does the sheer volume of workers on a given task make enforcing such an agreement impossible?
    • Could the problem be solved potentially by drafting specific tasks to specific information, the disclosure of which would make the individual who divulged the info identifiable?
    • What are the costs of drafting such complex contracts?
    • Is there a way the technology can account for this problem?
  • Worker Fairness. The Best Practices document suggests that the crowd-sourcing platform should facilitate easy payment and provide a forum for dispute resolution.
    • Could the platform have a rating system that suggested a fair rate based on the type of tasks requested? There could be a "survey" that each employer fills out before submitting the task, which would calculate a suggested rate. Perhaps it could be based off of past rates, as tracked by the platform operator? (Does Amazon's "recommended" technology do this in a different form already?)
    • Could the technology facilitate a cyber dispute-resolution forum? (What if the dispute-resolution process was, in turn, crowd-sourced?!)
    • Have platforms set up features to facilitate the creation of online worker unions?
  • Feedback Loops. The Best Practices suggests that workers and companies use a feedback mechanism in good faith.
    • Is there any way to use technology to prevent abuse of feedback systems, or at least encourage people to use the feedback system in good faith?
  • Labor Movement Crowdsourcing's success is dependent on finding ways to engage its labor pool, whether it be through offering money or gamesque points. However, as mentioned in class and in the best practices document, there are many ways for these laborers to become dissatisfied with their work, whether it be through a lack of transparency, stress, low wages, etc. Is there a potential for a crowdsourcing labor movement in response to these dissatisfactions? As an inherently digital workforce, these individuals' attempts to share discontents and act upon them are facilitated by their familiarity with and access to online communities. However, how far will this unity go? Do you feel that workers will only offer critiques of certain employers to others or could there be the formation of unions and similar entities in the crowdsourcing world?
  • Disclosure. The anonymity of cyber-space and the possibility to divide a large project into a a large number of small tasks so that the ultimate product is unidentifiable raises a number of ethical concerns. Have companies, clients and platforms alike, explored setting up or mandating an ethical commission investigating these concerns? What about a voluntary code of conduct created and agreed on by the indudtry as a quality management system to prevent black sheep from ruining the reputation of the entire industry in case of misconduct and as a preemptive action towards governmental regulation? --> How do you prevent a private run "Manhattan Project" implemented through crowdsourcing and sold to the highest bidder?
  • Overlap of legal frameworks. Some countries have a state pension fund that is financed by a tax deducted from a worker's salary. How are these legal requirements adhered to in the realm of crowd-sourcing? How is the location/jurisdiction of the worker determined? If the company's location is chosen, how measures are taken for the worker to have access to that respective legal system?
  • Compensation. Crowdsourcing appears to rely on monetary compensation, a gamelike points system, or personal gratification to motivate people to participate in these tasks. Which of these compensation forms is the most effective in ensuring a large labor pool and the best results for employers? Which (if any) of these forms will be the most prominent system of compensation in the future and which do you think would be the most ideal compensation structure for crowdsourcing in the future?
  • Mobile Online Devices. Mobile and closed platforms with constant connection to the Internet have been supplanting sedentary workplaces in popularity.. How has crowdsourcing taken advantage of this change or has it struggled to do so? What advantages/challenges do these mobile devices offer workers, employees, and crowdsourcing agencies?