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Micro-work, artificial intelligence and the automotive industry


  • Paola Tubaro

    (LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - UP11 - Université Paris-Sud - Paris 11 - CentraleSupélec - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, TAU - TAckling the Underspecified - LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - UP11 - Université Paris-Sud - Paris 11 - CentraleSupélec - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Inria Saclay - Ile de France - Inria - Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Antonio A. Casilli

    (I3 SES - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation de Telecom Paris - Télécom ParisTech - I3 - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Télécom ParisTech)


This paper delves into the human factors in the "back-office" of artificial intelligence and of its data-intensive algorithmic underpinnings. We show that the production of AI is a labor-intensive process, which particularly needs the little-qualified, inconspicuous and low-paid contribution of "micro-workers" who annotate, tag, label, correct and sort the data that help to train and test smart solutions. We illustrate these ideas in the high-profile case of the automotive industry, one of the largest clients of digital data-related micro-working services, notably for the development of autonomous and connected cars. This case demonstrates how micro-work has a place in long supply chains, where tech companies compete with more traditional industry players. Our analysis indicates that the need for micro-work is not a transitory, but a structural one, bound to accompany the further development of the sector; and that its provision involves workers in different geographical and linguistic areas, requiring the joint study of multiple platforms operating at both global and local levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Paola Tubaro & Antonio A. Casilli, 2019. "Micro-work, artificial intelligence and the automotive industry," Post-Print hal-02148979, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-02148979
    DOI: 10.1007/s40812-019-00121-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lucrezia Fanti & Dario Guarascio & Massimo Moggi, 2020. "The development of AI and its impact on business models, organization and work," LEM Papers Series 2020/25, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. A. Cetrulo & A. Sbardella & M. E. Virgillito, 2023. "Vanishing social classes? Facts and figures of the Italian labour market," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 97-148, January.
    3. Fernández-Macías, Enrique & Klenert, David & Antón, José-Ignacio, 2021. "Not so disruptive yet? Characteristics, distribution and determinants of robots in Europe," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 76-89.
    4. Tubaro, Paola & Coville, Marion & Le Ludec, Clément & Casilli, Antonio A., 2022. "Hidden inequalities: The gendered labour of women on micro-tasking platforms," Internet Policy Review: Journal on Internet Regulation, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), Berlin, vol. 11(1), pages 1-26.
    5. Valeria Cirillo & Matteo Rinaldini & Jacopo Staccioli & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2023. "Trade unions' responses to Industry 4.0 amid corporatism and resistance," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 76(305), pages 91-120.
    6. Karacsony Peter, 2022. "Analysis of the Attitude of Hungarian HR Professionals to Artificial Intelligence," Naše gospodarstvo/Our economy, Sciendo, vol. 68(2), pages 55-64, June.
    7. Jean-Philippe Deranty & Thomas Corbin, 2022. "Artificial Intelligence and work: a critical review of recent research from the social sciences," Papers 2204.00419,
    8. A. O. Aver’yanov & I. S. Stepus’ & V. A. Gurtov, 2023. "Forecast of Staffing Needs for the Artificial Intelligence Sector in Russia," Studies on Russian Economic Development, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 86-95, February.
    9. Paola Tubaro & Clément Le Ludec & Antonio A. Casilli, 2020. "Counting ‘micro-workers’: societal and methodological challenges around new forms of labour," Post-Print hal-02898905, HAL.
    10. Tan, Zhi Ming & Aggarwal, Nikita & Cowls, Josh & Morley, Jessica & Taddeo, Mariarosaria & Floridi, Luciano, 2021. "The ethical debate about the gig economy: A review and critical analysis," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    11. Paola Tubaro & Antonio A Casilli, 2022. "Who bears the burden of a pandemic? COVID-19 and the transfer of risk to digital platform workers," Post-Print hal-03369291, HAL.
    12. Cirillo, Valeria & Evangelista, Rinaldo & Guarascio, Dario & Sostero, Matteo, 2021. "Digitalization, routineness and employment: An exploration on Italian task-based data," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).

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    More about this item


    Artificial intelligence; Micro-work; Automotive industry; Digital platform economy; Organization of work;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D26 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Crowd-Based Firms
    • J49 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Other
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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