Digital Labor

Tom Slee


Tom Slee writes about the intersections of technology, politics, and economics. He has a PhD in theoretical chemistry, a long career in the software industry, and his book “No One Makes You Shop At Wal-Mart” is a left-wing game-theoretical investigation of individual choice that has been used in university economics, philosophy and sociology courses. His new book, What’s Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy, has just been published by OR Books.

Platform co-operatives and the problem of trust
Maintaining trust among members is a central challenge for any community or co-operative. For digital platforms, ratings-based reputation systems have become the standard tool of choice, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that reputation systems fail at their basic task of discriminating between good and bad experiences. Also, there are signs that accurate, unbiased reputation systems can easily become tools of surveillance and arbitrary discipline.

Platform co-operatives adopting reputation systems should do so cautiously and should be aware of their problems. This talk is a warning to platform co-operatives of the hazards of reputation systems. And while there’s no technological quick fix for trust, I will also try to sketch some paths towards a solution.