It seems to me these numbers are too low. As Winick states,
But some initial difficulties that the surveyors faced in getting accurate data from the survey show that clearer studies still need to be performed. As Shelly Steward of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative told MIT Technology Review: “As the economy changes, we need consistent measures over time, along with new ways of thinking about and measuring work, in order to fully understand the experiences of workers and the challenges they face.”
And better aggregation of data. Uber has over 750,000 drivers in the US, and that’s just one company. With US population at 325 million, that would be 2% or more of the working population all by itself.
How to Program Your Job
| Brian Merchant
| investigates IT workers that automate their own work, asking the question,
When workers automate their own duties, who should reap the benefits?
Self-automation is now a thing, raising ethical – and legal – dilemmas. Is it legitimate to be paid for working a certain number of hours, theoretically performing various tasks, when in fact you have written code that actually performs the work?
If you are a freelancer, hired to accomplish some outcome, perhaps there is no dilemma, since your productivity is your own look out, and a client can’t really tell you how to perform your work. However, if you are a full-time employee, and you allocate company time to self-automation you’re into a grey zone.
I recall the Verizon programmer that outsourced his job to freelancers in China
, and was fired for it. Considering he had great performance reviews, and was only paying the programmers $50,000 to perform his $100,000 job, maybe they should have made him head of IT, and outsource all the programming.
This is perhaps an additional argument for platforming work. By that I mean operating a company on a set of protocols, especially the principle that workers can negotiate their own fees for service on a project by project, task by task basis, rather than on a flat-rate salary basis. In that case, the IT worker, claims processor, or social media marketer that self-automates or outsources all or some of the task or project work they take on is just being smart, not cheating.
As usual, the question of who should benefit from this sort of bottom-up automation is political, with a small ‘p’. Should the worker hacking the tedious, soulsucking makework get the benefit of a lighter workload and more free time? Or should the company and shareholders benefit, by reassigning the self-automator additional work to match the time the worker has ‘saved’? This boils down to 'Who owns the savings?’.
Consider that the IT self-automators that Merchant writes about generally want to remain anonymous speaks to that question: their bosses would likely want those savings, and would consider self-automation as theft.