VideoApril 22 2020

Labor, Tech, and Now

Network Power Hour

How is the COVID-19 shutdown impacting workers and organizing in the technology industry? Guest speakers Wendy Liu (author of the new book Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism) and Meredith Whittaker (Google walkout organizer and co-director and co-founder of AI Now) discuss labor and tech practices in a time of crisis with Data & Society economist and postdoctoral scholar Brian Callaci. In addition to describing the structural factors of the economy that gave rise to Silicon Valley as we know it, Liu’s book proposes a more radical way of developing technology, where innovation is conducted for the benefit of society at large rather than to enrich a select few. Pre-order a copy here.

Topics discussed:

  • What is the relationship between outsourcing supply chains and Silicon Valley, both historically and in the current pandemic?

  • How do charismatic (and often hubristic) CEOs influence policy and perspectives? How are industry leaders reacting to the rapidly shifting the balance between labor and management, including the stakes of even going to work in person?

  • How does one organize tech workers and build solidarity between programmers, low-wage workers, and other stakeholders in new technologies? Why does the misclassification of workers matter?

Shared Resources

From Data & Society:

 

Meredith Whittaker | AI Now Institute:

 

Actions/Organizing:

 

Wendy Liu | Abolish Silicon Valley:

 

Silicon Valley, labor, and the pandemic:

Connected Track