Databite SeriesJanuary 18 2024

Generative AI’s Labor Impacts

A Three-Part Series


Generative AI has seeped into many corners of our lives, and threatens to upend the economy as we know it, from education to the film industry. How do workers’ encounters with it differ from their experiences with other systems of automation? How are they similar, and how might this help us understand the shape and stakes of this latest technology?

In this three-part Databite series, Data & Society’s Labor Futures program brought together creators, platform workers, call center workers, coders, therapists, and performers for conversations with technologists, researchers, journalists, and economists to complicate the story of generative AI. By centering workers’ experiences and interrogating the relationship between generative AI and underexplored issues of hierarchy, recognition, and adaptation in labor, these interdisciplinary conversations shed light on how new technological systems are impacting worker agency and power.

February 8, 2024, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. ET | Recognition

In labor parlance, “recognition” is the pathway by which workers become a union. In what other ways can we recognize the value of work — beyond the form it takes? With artists and models finding that generative AI reduces them to their image, their words on a page, and even their measurements, how does this emerging technology diminish the value of workers and their contributions, and how might we recognize it? In this discussion, Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, Şerife (Sherry) Wong, Sara Ziff, and Aiha Nguyen pry open the black box of generative AI and consider what is lost or appropriated in the process of extraction. 

April 18, 2024, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET | Adaptation

The relationship workers have with technology is more dynamic, contested, and layered than predominant narratives suggest. Narratives that cast workers as replaceable, for example, obscure the active and complex ways that workers are responding to generative AI. While many build new skills and use these tools and systems to their advantage, others sabotage, counteract, and otherwise circumvent them. In the conclusion to our three-part series, Livia Garofalo, Jeff Freitas, and Quinten Steenhuis explore the ways workers are reshaping their relationship with generative AI tools — and with work itself. 




Production: CJ Brody Landow

Co-Production: Tunika Onnekikami

Web: Alessa Erawan

Design: Gloria Mendoza 

Editorial: Eryn Loeb


Additional support provided by Alexandra Mateescu, Tamara K. Nopper, Data & Society’s Raw Materials Seminar, Communications, Engagement, and Accounting teams.