Since the publication of Mary L. Gray and Siddharth Suri’s book Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass, readers from around the world have been able to learn more about Amara On Demand (AOD), a sustainability program of the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF). Through discussions with AOD linguists, the authors saw a more supportive and humanistic approach to doing work that is distributed remotely.

Ghost Work describes a vast and global hidden labor pool that provides critical human judgment to ensure the accuracy and usefulness of computer automation. This largely invisible industry is worth an estimated $25 billion dollars annually, with roughly 5–8% of the workforce based in the US. The authors learned about the people behind the work by conducting face-to-face interviews, sharing online surveys, and even hiring via the platforms in question. They build a convincing argument for the immense economic and public value that this typically unacknowledged workforce creates for our society.

Earlier this month, Gray spoke with the Data & Society Research Institute for their Databite series, a regular program of live talks and conversations. As part of the event, Executive Director of PCF and co-founder of Amara Dean Jansen joined in for a Q&A at the end of the talk to share some of his experience growing the AOD program. Watch the video here:

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One thought on “Video Talk: Mary L. Gray Speaks About Amara On Demand and “Ghost Work”

  1. I just listened to this video. I am very impressed about Mary’s keen sight and her full awareness about the deprived benefit of human labor under AI and semi automatic influence. When we live in a world which AI is going to greatly involved in human life, then human labor seems very easy, yet taking time and creativity. Even the time can be very short, but the thoughts is more valuable, just as in the process of elder care. Some of the “ghost” work might be involuntary, or may not be realized by the person who did it, yet it use personal time and thinking, like survey, sales link, subtitle, translation etc. And this market is huge, and the human labor needs to be sustainable too. So, it is a necessary or a good plus to have a universal basic health care for everyone or even universal income. I think this is wonderful idea, and great reasoning. Thanks for everyone’s talk and question, thanks for the video.

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