Special: Unintended Consequences
We return to simplicity in a revolt from the sophisticated said visionary English Canadian print maker Sybil Andrews Andrews working very speed need dynamic motion and rhythm resulting in vital an eye catching imagery that offered a new way to look at Everyday Life Glen. Bell Museum in Calgary celebrates the full breadth of her career from nineteen twenties Britain to her postwar life on the Canadian west coast which she called home until her passing in Nineteen ninety-two Sybil Andrews Druse Argon life on now. Learn more at Glennbeck Dot Org. This is podcast. I'm hi I'm Nora young and you're listening to spark we. Humans are great at creating new technologies designed to make our lives easier. Unfortunately these creations are often often fueled by hubris and a remarkable inability to foresee unintended consequences from bagging your own groceries at the self checkout to the destructive power of just one yelp reviewer to all the shadow work. We don't realize we're taking on today. A look back at our coverage of the unwanted and unexpected impact of technology and when Meredith Bussard was a kid. Her Parents Bader erector set to build a toy robot. She's been an hours putting the robot together. The whole time imagining what it will be like to have a new robot best friend to hang out with the when she finally finished and switched the robot on nothing happened. She called her mother and together. They discovered that the robot had a defective motor. Her mother explained. Things can go wrong when you make things eventually. Actually the toy companies sent a new motor but it was a bit anti-climactic the robot works but not very well and it was far from the best friend. Meredith had imagine the experience totter that building. Things is fun but it also showed her. That technology rarely lives up to our expectations. In the truth. Sometimes things just don't work the way we think they should meredith interest in technology continued and she decided it was how she wants to make her living. I started my careers computer scientist and then I quit to become a journalist. What I do now is I do? Data journalism which is the practice of finding stories and numbers and using numbers to tell all stories in two thousand eighteen meredith released artificial unintelligent. How computers misunderstand the world? She joined me to talk about how the book was both a Guide and warning. So you say that we're so enthusiastic about using technology for everything that quote. We stopped demanding that our new technology is good. So why does technology did you get past like that. So one of the things that I talk about is a concept. I Call Techno Chauvinism. which is this idea that technology is always the highest and best solution and we? We thought really long time but we can look around now at the world we've created and we can say it's much more nuanced than that you you know. We're twenty years into the digital era and still every time I go to a meeting we spend the first ten minutes with somebody up at the front trying to figure out how to use the general our point right and and so where does that techno chauvinism come from It comes from a particular kind of bias that says that mathematical and engineering problems. TMZ are superior to human problems and it's it's a pernicious bias and we need to critique it and I if we do critique Ed we can make better solutions that work for larger swats of humanity The technology of automated data processing contributes to man's attempt to bring order out of the unknown extending the boundaries of human knowledge. So the same time as being kind of an off technology. Many of us are also intimidated by it. You you talk about how you see that with your journalism students. What do you think we're or so afraid of you know? A lot of people think technology is magic and they think that people who write computer code are doing some kind of magic and that's thing that happens when when you don't understand what's going on so one of the things that I read about in the book is I write about empowerment I read about the way that everybody can can learn how computers work even though it seems kind of mystical. And it's not easy. I mean it's hard but you can Empower yourself to learn how these these things work and then also to say all right. This doesn't work the right way. And it's not my fault you know. A Lotta people tend to blame themselves when technology doesn't work and and honestly the problem is usually in the technology. It's in the code. It's an hardware it's in a developer not understanding how users would actually use the technology so want people to stop blaming themselves And of course in some ways technology companies kind of propagate that myth myth. I mean apple famously. Does talk about technologies as being magical right right and you know people do that for very human reasons they do you WanNa feel fancier than other people Especially people who are insecure of a real a vested interest in seeming seeming magical You know when you discuss artificial official intelligence in the book you talk about the difference between general and narrow I can you explain the difference sure so. Ai Is used. I used in a lot of different ways. It's very vague term and because it's so vague people tend to get confused about it so if we think about a as is a branch of computer science than we can think about kinds of AI. Well inside a I. You've got your General Ai. And you've got your narrow. Ai General Ai is is the kind of Hollywood stuff about robots taking over the world and it's totally imaginary though right and narrow. Ai Is what we have and narrow. Okay I is what is usually called machine learning so another confusing out there. Is that when people say I right now. What they usually mean is machine learning Now machine learning also really complicated because it sounds like there's little brain in the machine sure and it's not it's really high powered statistics yet. You call it a mathematical model for prediction. which doesn't sound nearly as sexy as they I I know right it sounds a it sounds kind of boring? I'm I'm Nora young in this time on spark a story from twenty eighteen. That was not at all boring. Meredith Bussard was breaking down techno chauvinism the belief the technology solves all problems. She's the author of artificial unintelligent. How computers misunderstand the world In one chapter you outline That the titanic disaster is commonly used to teach machine learning and how it speaks to a principle called unreasonable effectiveness business of data. It's a little bit complicated. But can you walk us through that sure. So the titanic. Disaster is a really good case for thinking about machine learning earning because almost everybody has heard of the titanic disaster. And when you picture the titanic in your head who do you picture Leonardo to posit. Yes yes right standing on the deck and then you also maybe think about the door and you think there was room for two people on that door widen get on the door. Why did he die? So you think about these things and it's an example. How Hollywood is in our our subconscious? Okay so we have confusion between the real titanic disaster and the Hollywood version of the titanic disaster. So it's also really good to talk about titanic in the context of AA. 'cause everybody in the costumes and the data is very widely available. And it's very clear so what you do when you do. A titanic. Exercise are lots and lots of these tutorials online. I highly recommend doing one of them. What you do is you take the titanic data you can open up an excel spreadsheet or something and you look at the different columns and you predict beast on the columns of data whether or not a particular passenger singer survived? So you have things like name and age and where. The person embarked and Where they travelling first class second class third class were they traveling with siblings or children or parents and how much they paid for their ticket? And so when you do the mathematical analysis it turns out. That passenger class is the most important thing that determines mathematically whether or not somebody who survived the titanic crush crash Okay so we build a model that takes in the data and And mixed prediction about whether or not a given passenger survived now the way that ah this modeling could be used is. We could absolutely take this model that we've constructed using this data and we could use it to judge other data that doesn't have the survived column in already we could use it to judge. Okay how much should I charge somebody who is going on a boat trip For travel insurance but if we use this model then we end up saying oh we'll rich. People are more likely to survive if there's a crash because their first class passengers ridge passengers so we can justify charging them less for insurance which is not fair So that happens that kind of inequality happens inside every model so every the time we try and use machine learning for a social problem. We ended up discriminating by default. So we need to examine that and we need to work against it so that we can make a better world for everybody So just to return to one of the things we were talking about before. It seems like. There's this disconnect between what computers are actually capable of what people think they can do. So how do we start to address that that disconnect you know that disconnect is very very real And I think one of the ways that we can start to address it is by taking things apart. One of the things I read about in the book is is and how fun it is to get an old computer and take it apart and look at how it's built and kind of trace out the wires and see that okay. This is the wire that plugs into the Monitor. And this is the place where you plug in the thing. That goes to the printer and all these wires go back to the power source. And here's the cord that goes to the power source like it's it's very empowering and it's also a really fun thing to do with a kid and so as you take things apart and put them back together you can learn how they work and and you can learn that. It's not magic you know there are lots of. I want to start with coding. I like starting with hardware because it's tactile but if you wanted to start with software there are lots of learn learn to code tutorials out there And it's a really good way of understanding okay when a software developer builds something like facebook. Well they all start by doing little tutorials and most people start with doing a very small program called Hello World which is an Omaha sh two I At one of the very first computer programs written in a popular programming language called C.. Which is one of the neat things about the book is that you actually walk? People through gruesome stuff which is an interesting approach to reading a book that's otherwise a narrative is that they're actually these sort of like little practical tutorials that we go through. Yeah it's a I wonder if I should If I should do this stylistically but when you're writing narrative about technology there are just these nuances to it that you you can't really understand unless you look at the code and so I thought all right I'll just put the code in there and we'll see how it goes. A lot of people haven't actually seen code before yeah you know like you'll see something flashing by the TV screen and it'll be like oh it's green on a black background. Looks very serious but you can read it just like you can read poetry Nor Young today I look at the unintended consequences of new technology. My guess is Meredith Broussard. Talking about her book artificial intelligence. How computers misunderstand the World I WANNA talk a bit about the culture culture of Silicon Valley in one of your critiques in? The book is one that I haven't actually heard before. which is that tech? Innovators are treated as these geniuses. who were encouraged to embrace these? You know big and his cases even patently ridiculous ideas. Can you talk a little bit about that. So this is a Culture argument and and usually people are arguing about the politics of free speech. But I get into arguments about mathematics computer science lance as well as the culture Inside math and computer science and the culture inside those disciplines has traditionally been hostile to women. And did you see that inside the academy so for example at Harvard. They don't have any senior professors in the math department. Who are women in twenty eighteen at Harvard University now? Computer Science is a descendant of mathematics and so- computer science has inherited all of the biases bases of math. And it's not about racism or sexism. It's about techno chauvinism. It's about feeling like the math is the most important thing and nothing else matters. But when you feel like that you ignore all of the other important social issues shoes so silicon valley has inherited this kind of bias. That was inside mathematics. And that's why we see things in Silicon Valley like like. Oh the code is the thing that matters. Let's move fast and break things let's disrupt and culture matters Social issues matter and and they matter just as much as solving mathematical and engineering problems Until I mean some of the things that you document are people being encouraged to was it. A staircase air case to space or something that people were. You know thinking about as just encouraged to kind of solve these problems that maybe you're not actually the world's pressing who's ooh technology probably should be addressing. Yeah that was a really fun Investigation so I looked into the history of technology. Oh Gee and I focus on actually my favorite tech Titan. WHO's a researcher? A scientist named Marvin Linski Largely considered the father of artificial intelligence and and mincy did all of these amazing things scientifically. He made his breakthroughs. He was a polymath. He was amazing on many levels but it also did some. I'm totally ridiculous things. So like he was friends with Arthur C Clarke who wrote to two thousand one and When Clark came up with the idea for how for the movie he called up his friend Linski to help make how realistic? It's one of the things that Clark in Minsk cooked up together. Was this idea of an elevator to outer space right. They were like. Oh Oh well We've really think that colonizing outer space is a great idea and we're going to need some sort of way to transport goods between our space station and the earth so we're just going to make a giant dumb waiter and yeah we think this is going to be a great idea. We we have this idea for our cable and we're GONNA look shoot a rocket into the air and you know the one end. Stay up in the air and we'll make this really strong cable that's going to be attached down there. And they spent six months and et heaven. Knows how much in government money on a space elevator right. You know somebody should have said like. Hey maybe don't build a space elevator and finally move over space. Shuttle NASA looking at building an elevator into space. The idea has been around for a while. But advances in science mean. It's moving closer to reality. Teams from around. The world are gearing up for you Right at one point in artificial intelligence that there are also limits. It's to what we should do with technology. So how do we determine what those limits should be. I think for a long time we have just given technologists to pass. We've said Oh. That sounds really cool. Let's do that because we have been entranced with the idea of innovation for the sake of innovation and we have been in the digital era era for a very very long time now and so we don't need to keep talking about digital innovation as if it's a new thing it is the new normal Okay so I think that we can I ask ourselves the question of what can we do. And what should we do mean we can look back to the atomic bomb for example. That's a really good example of something that we did because we could and then we realized afterward. Oh Hey maybe we shouldn't that right. And actually all the same people who were working on the Manhattan project then started working on early computing really. I didn't know that. Yeah near the end of the book point out that innovation is expensive and that most engineers work on maintaining existing products and not creating new ones. So what what does this tell us about the state of our digital world right now. The State of our digital world is crumbling. Things break all the time and we have to spend an enormous amount of effort vert fixing our technology so we have this idea that l.. If you do something technologically then you can just set it and forget it and this comes from from mathematics because in mathematics you discover a principal or you discover theorem and it just works forever. Works the same way. The PYTHAGOREAN Therrien Theorem doesn't change like it just works every time so computer science inherited this from mathematics. Inherited the idea that okay. We're going to write one programs gonNA run anywhere. You're going to run until the end of time. So that's what computer scientists try and do but when you start doing that for culture culture changes and it changes in part in response to the computer program that you wrote right so we are at the state now where we've been trying to set it and forget it for years in years and years and we've gotten rid of all the people who were in the jobs where they would do the things that support The information's being fed into the computer programs and we're surprised when nothing works In spite of that another critics in the book ultimately you say the. You're optimistic that we can find a path forward that uses technology to support democracy and human dignity. So what do you see the path forward. Well first of all I should say I I love technology I am not a technophobe. I'm not a Luddite. I look technology. I love building technology. I think I there are lots of amazing possibilities abilities. One of the paths forward that I see is I think that people can start to critique techno chauvinism when they see it so for example. There's a program that just came out called prayed. Paul which is a predictive policing program and it claims claims to be able to detect potential gang members based on I think social network analysis and this is absolutely not the kind of thing that people should be making because you can look at it and you can say oh this is going to disproportionately affect poor communities of color who are already under extreme surveillance and are already targeted by predictive policing methods ads. And maybe we don't need to make this because the science is not sound and the social impact is not one that we want Meredith it's a great book. Thanks so much for talking to us about it. Thank you very much. Meredith Bussard is the author of artificial unintelligent aginst. how Computers Misunderstand the world that interview was from May twenty eighteen? You know we've talked a lot on spark about the upside of creative disruption in and tech innovation but changing how things are done can how some unexpected and unwanted side effects. My Name is Phil Roy. Love as as an engineer in Ottawa. It's late Saturday night and Ottawa and driving to a party and I stop at a stop light and I'm just waiting for turn green and then I hear a noise thought somebody just hit my car or something like that or just thumped against it and then I looked back and I see two people sitting in the taxi by car Ice Cream I thought it was getting jacked. Then they just looked at me and laughed and they looked over. It means saying we're taking to the market and I looked back at them and I said I'm not your driver They looked rather confused They looked at their phones and they looked at me. And then they'd say anything they just got up and they slam the door and then another car came by. I was dressed that night and two and just a brown guy And as I looked over the same brown guy with a Tuque driving Uber Car I was I a little bit frazzled. And as low ticked off angry. But then I realized this is just a function of this technology. In the UBER APP. They give a a description of the car that had the person's driving including the license plate and also a tiny tiny pitcher of the driver's face. So I had to you. Don I was east Indian origin and I guess this guy was here so I think that's what happened posted this on facebook and originally. I didn't think about it too much. I contentious something interesting. That happened but I didn't realize that this has happened to my friends a lot where people actually told me that this kind of thing. I just happen to them. where their dave either had people jump in their car or they've jumped into a situation which they didn't think was actually a taxi situation? Some made friends from the drivers they accidentally jumps into a car of my friends. Basically hill down a cab in northern Uganda and when she arrived at your destination to try and pay the driver. Only at that moment was it wasn't a taxi and he didn't take anything. I think it was a great service but with this new kind. Social Interaction This kind of thing is down but it would have been nice for them to actually talk me. You're listening. I'm sorry. Sorry that would have been nice. Feel Roy Lopez shared his story with us back in two thousand fifteen more unintended consequences ahead. People can be edited out of the equation. Did you pump your own gas this week. Failure played at a solid bar or for us the self-checkout at the grocery store. Then you've been doing shadow work. It certainly means that there are fewer jobs and fewer interactions with people like cashiers. Here's in supermarkets. That may be trivial but they nonetheless they're part of the fabric that builds a community that those those short conversations that you have of the cashier and say You Know Laura. How are we going to be doing summer? You would you got a job after you graduate. I'll good good You know those little things really are are what make up a community ready and As they disappear it puts each into our own space where we're doing our shadow work. But we're doing it in a silo. We're doing quite alone. The unseen unpaid jobs that fill your day how we got here and why. It's bad for the economy breath. I'm Nora young young and this is spark it may give people satisfaction to write a negative yelp review. But what impact does it have on the employee earlier this year on spark we explored how the era of online reviews maybe turning customers into managers. If I could give this place negative stars I would the Snark Cook. Some online reviews for restaurants and other businesses can make you question whether the customer is always right. Now the review form yelp suggests reviewers can express personal smell opinions but not resort to speculation. The thing is customers don't always have enough insight into why there may have been an issue with the service in the first place customers is aren't always privy to certain situational factors may be the floors understaffed or maybe a something that you chuck up to so called. Bad Service is really situational national. Maybe this server at a horrible morning because her child is sick maybe she has a migraine. That's Joshua's sperber. He's professor of Political Science and History at Everett University University in Danville Virginia. He's the author of a new book called Consumer Management. In the Internet age how customers became managers in the modern workplace. There's a distinct unfairness. And almost a hyper empiricism to these types of reviews Joshua looked at the impact of review sites mainly yelp on the restaurant. Business through interviews. Wait staff and other employees managers and the reviewers themselves than the old days. When I worked in restaurants you would have typically or often A little wooden box and some index cards and a golf pencil and you would try to get customers to say. Hey how was your experience. And I don't think too. Many people filled these out. YELP has I would say Not only quantitatively but qualitatively exponentially expanded this type of activity on yelp customers. Go you WANNA website. Where they're really speaking to each other and there's a sort of illuminated publicity by having your comments on a widely read website? You could receive likes and you know various comments and positive feedback from your fellow. Reviewers on the website and they're trying to help one another spread as they put it a pay it forward Share information about restaurants. They like about good deals that sort of thing but in so doing that they invariably Comments on service and management read these reviews but the I emphasize that they read these reviews highly selectively. They don't respond to anything and everything. There's plenty and yet things prices for example menu items by contrast if there's a complaint about service involving perceived laziness inattentiveness S. A. Rudeness or anything like that managers Respond to those reviews. Not necessarily with the reviewer but they'll confront servers with those reviews invoking the notion of consumer sovereignty or the customer's always right right and they'll discipline the servers. Yeah let's dig into that a little bit. I mean when you interviewed many of them for your book. So what did they tell you about. The impact of yelp reviews on their work some servers. Say Well it's not really yelp that's the problem a bad manager. Sure or unfair customers the problem so there are some of that so this is certainly not unanimous but many servers have told me well we know that servers have have been fired for reviews. We know that surfers have been suspended for for bad reviews. And that makes you much more aware of the work you're doing. It adds stress address. This knowledge. That any customer is a potential yelp reviewer. I compare this a little bit to the old days so called mystery shoppers right but I argue. Are you that this actually is a lot more invasive because in those days and I based in part on working in restaurants in the nineties you kind of guess at who the mystery shopper might be if you've got a report. You're assuming that your restaurant is not due for another mystery shopper. Report for a while so you kind of relax. A little bit by contrast the awareness among many servers that every and any customer is a potential yelp reviewer as one server puts it quote unquote definitely add stress and Enhances dances and Zaidi Makes you work harder. Are there any examples that particularly stuck with you of where you know a manager has read something on yelp and and been able to identify a server and then kind of gone to them with with disciplinary procedures. One story that it was a CO worker. Told me this is in Manhattan and she said a Very angry five paragraph apparently so rather lengthy review was written complaining about server and the manager. suspended this this server for five days and apparently made her read quote unquote carefully read. the review and think about it so the sort of almost kind of punitive give response to these reviews and sometimes managers appear to be somewhat conscientious and confirming or trying to corroborate that a review is actually valid valid. So they'll for instance check if there's a complaint that a bartender was distracted on their smartphone. Some managers told me we'll check the restaurants or bars. security footage. My theory is that ultimately for many managers don't necessarily really care. ultimately about the reliability of a review insofar as it gives them a justification to increase worker productivity into punish one worker but more importantly I would say sort of scared scare the rest of the workers into working harder because they know they could be punished based on a negative yelp review do online reviews have some benefits for restaurant staff though like did positive reviews. Help them out at work. Well broadly. I would say it's a lose lose. So for example several on managers told me that. Oh we're much much more interested in using reviews carrots by the way with. I think one exception every manager or owner. I talked to very seriously reads. These reviews sometimes daily Even though there's quite a bit of ambivalence about yelp often a real disdain especially among smaller restaurants about yelp but nevertheless they read these reviews and some managers and owners go out of the way to say. Look Doc we're more interested in Those positive reviews so for example. I don't punish our servers for negative reviews but I will award preferable shifts right desired shifts to someone who gets implemented on Yelp of course the way that works is that server who is not getting mentioned on Yelp is you could say indirectly being being punished. One of the things that comes up in your work is that the managers seem to be sort of selectively responding to aspects of the YELP L. Perfume right if people are complaining about You know the food is too expensive or the portions are too small. The managers aren't necessarily acting on that they're acting on things like where the servers are to blame. Yeah that's a major point of the book. One of the themes of the book is that consumers are structurally weak within capitalism for variety of historic institutional institutional reasons so when I interviewed managers and owners and I said well what do you do if a yelp review complaints that the prices are too high and to quote one one owner of a small talion restaurant. But I think sort of is a stand in for the general attitude of owners and managers will. That's they're concerned. They should go to another restaurant. Ron Right and I don't think it's because the manager owner is nasty or greedy. I think it's because it's a cutthroat business and they're desperately trying to stay in business and they have competition competition and they know look most cost rent. Utilities are fixed right and they could only go so low their structurally in effect required to keep cheap prices at a certain level. Or they're going to be trouble as a business They just can't do much whether they want to or not about some complaints Chasing is another good example. What's housing so chasing refers to the practice in which You're at a restaurant having brunch with your friend and you're chatting and you just finished your meal and the server her car every few minutes seemingly showing up kind of awkwardly and maybe putting the check down again the table or anything else okay. Anything else and it makes you feel awkward. Like oh God but you resent that a little bit. Because you haven't talked to your friend and months and You just paid-for maybe an expensive meal regardless of that you feel entitled to sit and the Server for is making you feel uncomfortable. So that's a common complaint that customers have however manager. I've not spoken to any managers. Who would be concerned about that? Complaint they would say well that's our business model. If they don't like that they could go elsewhere. Maybe they should eat at home. But we're in a cutthroat business and we have to turn those tables over to keep the money coming in so we could pay our bills and make some profit but the significance of the fact that most complaints are not acted on illustrates that look this is not an example all of consumer power. Insofar as there's some consumer power it's a form of power that's contingent on managerial discretion The restaurant people have to eat like to the heat and don't like the work of fixing their own food at the job of being a hostess or a head wavered. Such persons are the restaurants direct contact with its patron. It is through them that the customers form their opinion their importance important. There's never underestimated by successful restaurant. But not all people like the same food served in the same way and at the same price therefore we have different types of restaurants offering different types of service to meet varying tape breath. This is spark. This is sparked listening to spurt spark. You're listening to spark from CBC radio. I'm Nora young today. A look at the unintended consequences of new technology earlier this year I spoke to Joshua sperber about online online reviews services like yelp and the unintended power that reviewers can have over employee wellbeing. You know one thing that strikes me about yelp is that on on the surface like airbnb the hosts get raided. But so do the guests. So if you're you know a pain in the neck people might choose not to rent to you but on yelp you can leave a mean review and and then still walk into any restaurant without a problem. I mean how much of an issue is the structure of Yelp in particular. I would argue it from two different directions actions on one hand I would say in a highly limited contingent way. It has empowered customers over workers it's enhanced worker exploitation in the old days CEO okay. of workers working the night shift and the night shift manager might not be on site. There was always been confrontations between workers and customers. So let's say there's a nasty confrontation. It probably ends at the restaurant. By contrast now customer leaves they had a maybe a confrontation with an overworked server and they could just go to yelp and then the next today the restaurant manager will read that and confront the worker about it so it reshapes the field of interaction. And you could have not only a unilateral but a retroactive sort of attack on a worker. That again is mediated through manager and the workers not really always necessarily equipped to respond to You've called this. And this is a quote surveillance that's performed by anonymous yelp reviewers. Can you elaborate on that. What do you consider these online reviews to be a kind of surveillance valence? Well I use the example of the mystery shopper. The old mystery shoppers. There's plenty of restaurants usually larger on business models employee. so-called mystery mystery shoppers. You know actual company employees who come in and pose as customers in effect spy on on the service and report on it. That's classics surveillance yelp irrespective of what the Yelp Er- wants right. When I asked you? Do you think servers are getting fired for your negative reviews. Almost all YELP or say no I doubt it. I don't see how that would work right the way I put it is the review a yelp reviewer writes becomes something else it almost goes through a metamorphosis it's in the hands of management now management is really in control once they get that review and like we said They use it selectively and the primary way they do use it functions actions as enhanced surveillance famously and service work management can't simply shadow their workers and they can't over manage because as if they over manage your going to discourage the sort of spontaneity and receptivity and creativity that defines so called good service work where the service worker really seems alive and responsive and attentive to the needs of the customer but specifically it's reflective of a major transformation in the economy toward a service economy starting really in the seventies days by incorporating customers into the management of workers. You achieve this sort of difficult goal Where now actually really? Your workers are being managed. But they're being managed in spaces and in ways that management can't reach They're being managed right as they're taking somebody's order right. Management can't be anywhere and everywhere but so I'd describe and others have used this term Yelp as providing sort of digital. It'll panopticon or workers are always being watched. And even if they're not always being watched they have reason to assume that they're likely being watched by someone one who is not just going to grumble and go home and complain about a supposed bad experience but is actually going to write it up on a website read by millions of people including their manager. The research that's been done on Yelp does indicate that YELP has actual negative effects on small businesses That's true yelp negative yelp reviews could predict whether a a restaurant is likely to go to business with that likely means is another business will take its place and the odds are awfully good Because no businesses an island that they'll engage in similar practices so in that sense Maybe it feels good for lack of a better word to vent on Yelp but MM structurally speaking. It's equivalent to playing whack a mole. We don't Yelp doesn't equip consumer certainly acting on an individual level or even collectively actively necessarily to fundamentally transform business realities that by design end up taking advantage and fleecing consumers yelp is is not gonNa do it for us even if it can't punish an individual business so I wouldn't want to suggest that yelp reviews would be scandalized and regretful. Well if they learned of what's happening with the reviews maybe some would be but I think plenty of it. Well let's tough they. They were rude. That's not my fault. I wonder if maybe this came out in in your interviews. Where any of the servers on the lookout to see if they could spot potential you offer viewers in the way they might have been on the lookout for mystery shoppers? I well I would go back to what reviewers of told me some said. They'll very conspicuously check in on yelp once they sit down because they want a server to see Checking in on Yelp one they some presume. They'll get perks from management so some sort of comped dessert. Or some drink or something like that but they assume they're going to get better service or to quote unquote treated well. If the server sees them on yelp alternately some reviewers said no they tried to keep it a secret because they want experience. The restaurant just like a normal person would are just like anyone else would so. There's a sort of assumption there that by virtue of being a yelp review or they're not like anybody else thor's sort of you know this food critic Incognito sorta hidden power Joshua super interesting research. Thanks for talking to us about it was my pleasure thank you very much. Joshua's SPERBER is the author of consumer management in the Internet age. How customers became managers in the modern workplace Pet peeve well to getting to be honest have a library of pet peeves alphabetize stored in a series of banker's boxes but one of those pieces involves supermarkets specifically the option to scan and bag your own own groceries. Why would I do that? Why would I contribute my labor for free so the store can employ fewer cashiers? Think about what you consider work. Maybe it's the work you do to earn a living or maybe the many jobs you do to take care of things at home but what about all the other unpaid tasks that are part of your daily routine. The shadow work back in two thousand fifteen. I spoke to Craig Lambert. He's the author of shadow work. The unpaid unseen jobs that that failure day we'll shadow. Work is all of these unpaid jobs that we are now getting to do like pumping our own gasoline building. Our own furniture out out of Ikea's kits scanning our own groceries bag their own groceries Becoming our own travel agents online Becoming our own car rental. Oh agents Zipcar there's Many many many of them and is a large phenomenon going on of businesses and organizations sort of offloading voting these tasks onto the consumer. Craig adopted the term from the nineteen eighty-one shadow work by philosopher and social critic. Yvonne Illitch for Illitch Shadow work included all the unpaid labor in a wage based economy and create. Believes that for many reasons were moving into a new era of shadow work today. There are several different causes that moved us towards the era of shadow work which I predict will also continue and even increase One of them has been technology. The way that the Internet has opened up lots of possibilities by sharing information so broadly for example when you Have travel all information on websites like EXPEDIA OR KAYAK DOT com available to every customer. That cuts travel agents out of the equation In the experience of many consumers. They'll say I can go online and book my own flight in my own hotel. I can do this with my own resources. So do I need pay a commission to a travel agent. Now in fact travel agents do have certain other options that we don't have as consumers but the general perception is that we can take their place and technology has made a lot of this possible. Are there other centers in which automation has played a role in the creation of shadow. Work absolutely the evolution of the Self Service Service. Petrol pump the the which was invented In a few places but significantly in Canada in the late forties has made it easier and easier for consumers to pump their own gasoline. It wasn't quite as convenient at the beginning. But now you can pay at the pump with credit card. You won't slop any gasoline lien on your shoes and You can do this in about two minutes without consulting anyone at the gas station so those people are out of jobs. So that's one of the things about shadow work is it does take human beings out of the commercial transaction. Yeah and what effect does that have on entry level jobs in particular a a lot of jobs that are done in this way by consumers are once requires zero training that you can teach yourself the pump your own gas in about a minute or two so clearly. They are jobs that have normally been done by untrained people or very little train people and so. That's one of the concerns concerns about shadow work. Is that these entry jobs like supermarket. Cashier are disappearing the ATM at the Bank can Make a teller's job obsolete to some degree my own dad was a bank teller and he He understood this very well. So how do you become a bank teller L. or if the team has taken that job it's a concerning thing that the shadow work is eliminating those entry level jobs because I say in my book that those are the the sidewalk of main street that the first step up from the street Into the world of employment. We might complain about this kind of thing is consumers or complain about the Economic impact of it. But aren't we really partly to blame for this ourselves and we want everything to be cheaper. That's why we assemble our own furniture and why we do our own research research by online. Yes there is a certain amount of that We would like everything at the lowest costs and we don't really calculate our own hourly rate into the equation when we're when we're doing these things We forget that we're putting in the time or we don't mind putting in the time if you go to a salad bar you make your own salad and one of the things that you do have is you have a your way you can put exactly the ingredients in the salad that you want. It's their choice but on the other hand it means you are doing a job. Used to be done by a chef and instead of sitting at the table with your family or friends talking you are up the salad bar making your salad right. So there are there are trade-offs and one thing I hope that shadow work The book is able to do is to make people aware of the trade offs that they are Endorsing when they do these jobs themselves but you know when you look at things like Online platforms like social networks. For instance one one thing we've learned is that people in some cases at least like to contribute that free labor. I mean no one makes people write reviews on trip advisor. They do it because they want to do so. Is there a sense in which people find shadow work. Satisfying there certainly is. There are studies. One was done by Michael Norton colleagues at Harvard Business. The school showed that when people make something themselves like an eye Kia bookshelf They they evaluated more highly and they take a good deal of satisfaction in creating their own bookshelf. Even if it's not quite as well constructed as the one they might have bought in the store. Yeah I'm Nora Young. In the spark for wonder why we call it service economy when it's really a self service economy right now. You're listening to an an interview with Craig. Lambert all about the unpaid shadow work. The dogs our daily lives. You say another other causes. This trend is The democratization of expertise. So can you explain how that's creating more shadow work. Well it shows that shadow work doesn't as an only happen at the entry level but even high levels of skill and training lawyers You can go and download your own. wills contracts contracts legal forms filled out yourself and maybe bring it to the lawyer for some light learning To make sure it's correct and all the ts across the periods in place. How do you think shadow work is changing the way we think about our time or the way we value our time I have thought about does a lot in the last chapter of my book is called the twilight of Leisure and in it I talked about the fact that leisure is a subject of I've Predation now almost the there is no lobby for leisure In in the capital of the the world the leisure is by definition unorganized time. That's what makes it leisure. However there are large institutions there are businesses? There are there. nonprofits is there are schools hospitals organizations of all kinds have designs on your leisure they would like to convert that unorganized time into Organiz time and make things productive I put quotes around that productive in the economic sense in that somehow involves making money or spending money either producing or consuming zooming and there are. It's easy to forget. There are a lot of things we can do. That are free and that our leisure that don't have to involve buying a ticket or paying a cable. TV Bill but they are things like taking a walk in the forest or wilderness. Area throwing a baseball with our son or daughter there. There are many many things that are a great deal on. That don't cost anything at all. And Leisure is being eroded by a number of forces show work is one of the major ones. I think we don't often Value Our free time. Highly Enough Maybe time is starting to lose the race with money in terms of what we value but in my view time is infinitely viable. It's the one most precious resource any of us has and money is wonderful as it is and it's great great to have money. Nonetheless is finite in its value and we are beginning. I think to lose sight of the fact that we're trading off something of infinite value for something whose value is actually quite limited. Besides time. What else do you think shadow work is taking away from US shadow work? Maybe as we were noting taking away certain kinds of jobs It in many cases is taking away some freedom of choice because there are situations situations when we used to have a choice in that choices eroding and in the case of the gasoline station It can be fairly hard to find a full service station to to have anyone pumped the gasoline for you. If that is your preference the advent of shadow work maybe bringing us into a world where it is a self service world throughout and it's a question of do it yourself or won't get done. It may be the only option there in Europe. There are train stations that are completely automated. There's no human being that ought to sell you a ticket all done by kiosks and If you go into those stations you'd better be able to deal with kiosks. So the elderly people with various disabilities Those who can't cope very well with touch screens and the digital technology involve Can actually be sidelined by I situation where there is no other option. There's no freedom of choice There is only one option. Which is doing that shadow work? Yeah it kind of makes you wonder about social connection into. I mean it's more automated literally possible to go through your entire day without needing to have a conversation with somebody. That's one of the downsides of shadow work is that people can be edited out of the equation it certainly means that there are fewer jobs and fewer interactions with people like cashiers and supermarkets that may be trivial but they they nonetheless part of the fabric that builds a community that those those short conversations that you have of the cashier INSA- Laura how are you going to be doing summer. You got a job after you graduate. Well I'll good good those little things Really are what. Make hiccups a community in As they disappear kind of atomised us It puts us Each into our own space where we're doing our shadow work. But we're doing it in a silo. We're doing quite alone crates. A thought provoking read. Thanks so much for talking to us. It's been our pleasure Craig Lambert. What is the author of shadow work? The unpaid unseen jobs. That fill your day. That was an interview from October. Twenty fifth you've been listening to a special episode of spark. The show was made by Michelle Parisi Kent Kaufman Adam. Killick astier Emmy nor young and by Meredith Bussard Joshua Sperber and Craig Lambert go to CBC DOT CA slash spark to subscribe to the podcast or download the CBC. Listen App you can also find us on facebook twitter where we are spark. CBC Nor Young. Talk to you soon. Take for more C._B._C.. PODCASTS GO TO C._B._C. Dot C._A. Slash podcasts.