Jeremias Prassl, Associate Professor of Law and Fellow at Magdalen College will be talking about his new book Humans as a Service, which scrutinises the competing narratives about work in the 'gig economy', and how claims of 'disruptive innovation' and 'micro-entrepreneurship' often obscure the realities of highly precarious work and the strict algorithmic surveillance and control to which workers are subject. 

Humans as a Service will be published by Oxford University Press this Spring.

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Book Blurb

What if your boss was an algorithm?

The gig economy promises to revolutionise work as we know it, offering flexibility and independence instead of 9-to-5 drudgery. The potential benefits are enormous: consumers enjoy the convenience and affordability of on-demand work while micro-entrepreneurs turn to online platforms in search of their next gig, task, or ride.

Is this the future of work?

 This book offers an engaging account of work in the gig economy across the world. Competing narratives abound: on-demand gigs offer entrepreneurial flexibility – or precarious work, strictly controlled by user ratings and algorithmic surveillance. Platforms’ sophisticated technology is the product of disruptive innovation – whilst the underlying business model has existed for centuries.

How can we protect consumers and workers without stifling innovation?

As courts and governments around the world begin to grapple with the gig economy, Humans as a Service explores the challenges of on-demand work, and explains how we can ensure decent working conditions, protect consumers, and foster innovation. Employment law plays a central role in levelling the playing field: gigs, tasks, and rides are work – and should be regulated as such.