Machines are ousting us. As it happened some time ago to horses after the invention of the steam engine, humans are becoming obsolete to perform mechanical labour. Soon, with the advance of artificial intelligence, it will also affect our possibilities to be useful workers performing intellectual labour.
The IoHO explores this scenario and tries to ask questions on how to reposition the role of humans in society, particularly how to cope with a labour-market dominated by machines.
Becoming obsolete will create a reality in which new forms of labour will emerge and flourish. Our aim is to explore, question and challenge scenarios of that transition.
Exploring the potential of the human body to produce capital
Alone in The Netherlands there are 1,700 KW of unexploited electricity to be harvested from human body heat.
From the electricity extracted of excess heat, the body-suit runs a computer producing cryptocurrency.
A single human body at rest radiates 100 watts of excess heat. We created a body-suit that uses thermoelectric generators to harvest the temperature differential between the human body and ambient and converts it into usable electricity. The electricity generated is then fed to a computer that produces cryptocurrency.
Milliwatts hour harvested
The Institute of Human Obsolescence ran 4 different operations extracting biological labour for 22, 69, 39 and 82 hours. Those 212 hours were divided in working shifts of 1, 2 or 3 hours, 37 different workers participated in the process.
Despite seemingly moving towards a society without human work, we have started to perform new forms of invisible labour. Human-produced data is a resource already extracted by Big Tech, producing vast amounts of capital. This new role that humans have taken in society is obscured by promises imposed by Big Tech. Why aren't we, the data workers, capitalising from it? If even jobless workers are generating capital by producing data, are we truly unemployed?
Big Data is becoming a 200 billion dollar industry.
We, the data workers are its key resource and unrecognised workforce.
While the data produced should belong to the data workers, its control and exploitation is in the hands of monopolistic companies.
In a society that claims it no longer requires human work, we all have become invisible workers.
Participants of Data Production Labour reveal the exploitation and implications of their production of data for the Big Tech industry. The installations invite the participants to perform working shifts using different tools, such as their phones, a web interface, and their voice. They problematise the social inequalities, ownership questions and military implications of the dynamics established by Big Tech through their exploitation of invisible labour.
As workers that produce data, what are our labour rights?
As part of our initiatives we organize discussions, assemblies, workshops and regularly participate in conferences.
Media, interviews and public events