Work Futures Daily - Slutbot

| Peak Gig? | Flextime Double Bind | 33 Female F500 CEOs | AI in Hiring? | Sarah Todd |

Beacon NY - 2019-05-23 — Yes, I named the issue after a chatbot named Slutbot (see Elsewhere, below for deets). It's just too chewy to not use it.


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Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

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In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please | Christopher Mims talks with Jason Noorzai who has worked for eight gig economy companies in the past few years: Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub, Amazon Flex, Uber, Lyft, Field Agent, and Deliv. (I never even heard of Deliv, before.)

Mr. Noorzai’s experience in the gig economy is—according to surveys by Gallup and others—typical in two ways: First, he churned through these jobs quickly, never staying in one for more than a few months. Second, he’s now using these services to supplement his income, rather than treating them as full-time work.

As Noorzai's trajectory shows, there's a lot of turnover in gigland:

The unusually high rate of turnover in the gig economy should have the leaders of these companies and their investors worried, says Micah Rowland, chief operating officer of Fountain, a company that helps gig companies acquire new workers by streamlining the hiring process.

Because Fountain helps companies hire a higher proportion of the people who show an interest in working for them in the first place, Mr. Rowland’s company benefits from high turnover in the gig economy, but only as long as its clients stay in business. For some, he worries the churn rate is so high that it’s unsustainable.

“It struck me that in some of these markets, they’re processing thousands of job applicants every month, and these are not large cities,” says Mr. Rowland. “I asked, ‘Have you guys ever considered you may burn through the entire available labor market of people interested in or willing to do roles like this?’ and they did not have an answer for that.”

The implications for the value of these platform companies are potentially dire, because without the gig workers there is no gig economy. Switching to full-time employment is an answer, and comes with serious costs, but cuts the cost of churn. Mims asks the right question:

You would think that companies like Uber and Lyft would respond to high turnover rates by improving conditions for workers and raising pay, but the pressures of going public appear to be pushing them in the opposite direction. For years drivers have protested pay and working conditions at these companies, and recent protests in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities continue to be about these issues.

And in the end, the economics are trending toward zero pay for gig workers, as tens (hundreds?) of billions are being invested into autonomous vehicles, delivery bots, and robotic processes:

The largest of the gig startups still have billions of dollars in the bank. For them, reaching profitability might be impossible without automating the jobs now filled by costly humans. If that sounds familiar, it’s what former Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick once said about self-driving cars—that being in the vanguard in developing them was an existential issue for the company.

“These [food-delivery and ride-hailing] businesses are banking that driverless technologies will be available soon enough that they can get out of this endless cycle of losing money,” says Mr. Price.


Disconnecting to spend time with your kids could sabotage your career | Chris Morris reports on new evidence of the double-bind latent in flextime work arrangements. Taking advantage of them will slow your career:

According to a recent study, parents who work part-time have a 21% chance of being promoted within the next three years. Full-time counterparts have a 45% chance, and the average mother waits two years longer for a promotion than the average father.


Fortune 500 Female CEOs Reaches All-Time Record of 33 | I know I should feel good about this news from Claire Zillman, but the absolute truth is I'm not. Only 33?

In the latest Fortune 500 list, published Thursday, you’ll find a new record: As of June 1, 33 of the companies on the ranking of highest-grossing firms will be led by female CEOs for the first time ever.

To be sure, that sum represents a disproportionately small share of the group as a whole; just 6.6%. But it also marks a considerable jump from last year’s total of 24, or 4.8%.


Should Companies Use AI to Assess Job Candidates? | Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Reece Akhtar make a strong case for taking humans out of the loop in hiring:

AI has the potential to significantly improve the way we identify talent as it can reduce the cost of making accurate predictions about one’s potential, while at the same time removing the bias and heuristics that so often cloud human judgement. The fact that AI algorithms can detect and measure latent or seemingly intangible human qualities may lead some to be skeptical of the aforementioned findings, but it is worth noting that there are plenty of scientific studies that demonstrate that humans can accurately identify personality and intellect from just thin slices of verbal and non-verbal behavior. AI algorithms simply leverage the same cues that humans do. The difference between humans and AI is that the latter can scale, and can be automated. What’s more, AI does not have an ego that needs to be managed.

Or a paycheck, health insurance, or parking space.

The authors touch on the ethical and legal implications, but they come down in favor of AI in hiring:

It’s still possible to deploy innovations like the ones we describe here while operating within the constraints of good codes of conduct.

And of course, humans are so biased in their judgments about others it should be a crime to not rely on AI.

Quote of the Day

There’s an important blind spot in the public discourse about the importance of work-life balance. As Laura Carroll notes for Fortune: “When it comes to work-life balance, the ‘life’ part has often been synonymous with personal time related to parenting.” When employers and the media talk about work-life balance, they’re often referring to “family-friendly,” flexible policies that allow people to get home in time to eat dinner with their kids, work remotely when a child is home sick, or duck out of the office to pick up children after school.

There’s no doubt that parents deserve to have work cultures that accommodate their families. The problem lies in the implication that the only reason anyone would want to ever stop working is because they’ve got tiny humans at home. In making the need for work-life balance appear contingent upon caretaking responsibilities, we inadvertently suggest that people need to justify their right to prioritize a life outside of work—a mindset that’s bound to perpetuate burnout culture, hurting parents and non-parents alike.

| Sarah Todd, You deserve work-life balance—even if you don’t have kids


Untelling the Dominant Economic Story | At On The Horizon I build on writing by David Sloan Wilson, who said

Putting people first has not become the norm in the business world and treating employees as chattel is perversely spreading worldwide like a cancer.


Tesla: Insane or Clever | Jean-Louis Gassée starts by suggesting Elon Musk is a madman and then ends up saying he's crazy like a fox. Because he has vertical integration of all software and hardware layers, which his establishment competitors don't.


How to Talk to Millennials About Capitalism | Edward Glaeser tries to debunk modern interest in socialism, unconvincingly.


Talk Dirty With Machine | Rainesford Stauffer reports on the state of flirttech: chatbots designed to help people learn how to flirt. The perfectly named Slutbot teaches Juicebox users how to sext.

Social Now 2019 — Lisbon Portugal — 6-7 June 2019

At Social Now, enterprise social tools battle it out for the chance to be voted “the best tool for my organisation”.

Every year, Social Now shows ways of improving internal communications, collaboration, and knowledge sharing and retention. This 8th edition Social Now 2019 will also pay special attention to several key questions:

  • how leaders can adapt to fully rip the benefits of digital transformation efforts; and,

  • how to use enterprise social tools to identify, nurture and develop great digital leaders.

Cablinc is a fictitious company with very real challenges. At Social Now, you will hear:

  • amazing speakers offer practical recommendations to help Cablinc;

  • platform vendors tell “day-in-the-life” narratives of smarter work practices at Cablinc;

  • peers from real organisations share their own experiences, in short talks and in the innovative “peer assist” session.

Come to sunny Lisbon. Join a small group of 100 professionals for 2 days of practical talks, rich debate, great networking, and gorgeous food and wine.

Click to register, or for more information.

Social Now uses a totally different lens to zoom in on key questions about social tools. More of a workshop than a typical tech conference, and dedicated to on-the-ground exploration of tools, rather than abstract theorizing. It's my third (fourth?) Social Now and I can't wait. | Stowe Boyd

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