Issue #34: Gorillas launches record label instead of providing labor rights?
Headlines you shouldn’t miss
GOV.UK £23 million to boost skills and diversity in AI jobs: The United Kingdom’s government invests £23 million into AI conversion courses. The courses aim at underrepresented groups like women and black people and are part of the National AI Strategy to boost the future workforce.
FORTUNE Learning to code will not save your kids: At the beginning of February, DeepMind revealed AlphaCode — a new AI software that writes new software pretty much on its own. While AlphaCode is estimated to be better than half of the human coders, it is likely to improve drastically and quickly. In the future, parents shouldn’t focus too narrowly on teaching their children coding skills, as demand might drop.
NBC NEWS Why retailers might offer you a job before you even know you want one: Due to the severe labor shortage in the retail industry, a growing number of companies are turning to AI-driven hiring software. Chatbots and software that analyzes video recording of applications can dissect the candidate’s language and intention. Additionally, AI-driven hiring software can crawl through data on job platforms and spot qualified potential candidates who use a different job title. Scholars remain cautious — AI-driven recruiting bears the risk of bias.
FINANCIAL TIMES Eric Schmidt creates $125mn fund for ‘hard problems’ in AI research: Google’s former chief Eric Schmidt is launching a $125 million fund called ‘AI2050’. It’s a philanthropic fund trying to solve a list of concerns and challenges associated with artificial intelligence. Bias, misuse, geopolitical risks and scientific limitations are among the identified problems. Funding goes to leading scholars working on solutions to the ‘hard problems.’
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German delivery start-up Gorillas first fired striking riders — now they want to attract workers with a… record label?
The German rapid delivery service Gorillas has a simple concept: You order groceries and a rider will deliver them to you in a whooping 10-minute timeframe. The startup has gained popularity in large cities like Berlin and even entered the US market serving hungry New Yorkers.
But the pace comes at a social cost: Last autumn, hundreds of riders were protesting against the lack of labor rights and demanded a workers’ council. Riders complained that they had been fired for arriving a few minutes late for their shift. As a consequence, Gorillas fired 500 riders.
Gorillas was under scrutiny by trade unions, politicians, and investors for a good part of 2021’s autumn. Without any doubt, the mass protest damaged the startup’s reputation. So, what did the leaders decide to do?
They could’ve launched a PR-heavy apology campaign — or actually discussed the reasons for the protests with the riders. Instead, Gorillas has established a record label called Pedal.
In the press release, Gorillas explains its move:
“Since January 20th, Gorillas employees have been able to submit their tracks to Pedal Records. The A&R team, consisting of music industry professionals with many years of experience, checks all incoming songs. Even if not every submitted piece of music is released - or every artist signed - all Gorillas artists receive a response with feedback and an opportunity to re-submit their tracks.”
Artists are supposed to receive a share higher than average of the streaming revenues. First songs have already been released.
With Pedal, Gorillas seems to be trying to brand itself as a modern and creative employer. The demand for riders has been growing with the increased popularity of the service.
I personally doubt that this gimmick will boost Gorillas’ reputation as an employer, and I wonder if there will be a proper proposal that can benefit all workers. After all, what is a record label supposed to do for you if you’re not making music?
Quote of the week: Nagaraj Nadendla on the role of AI in recruiting
Nagaraj Nadendla is the SVP of development at Oracle Cloud HCM, and he recently explained the possibilities and limitations of AI-driven recruiting software in an Inc. article titled “Why You Shouldn't Blame Artificial Intelligence for Poor Recruiting Processes.” Nadendla claims that AI and recruiting issues emerge from poor recruiting processes, and he advocates for responsible HR practitioners capable of designing a proper recruiting pipeline. On the use of AI, he says:
“As the technology used in recruiting continues to evolve, refining the role of technology will be a never-ending, iterative process. But technology is just one piece of the puzzle. For the overall process to work best, humans need to make the right decisions in the deployment of that technology. And hiring professionals need to act judiciously on the input they receive. AI has some major advantages over people in its ability to analyze huge amounts of data and make recommendations, but humans need to provide their own oversight to make sure the process actually helps candidates and recruiters alike in the hiring process and in making fair judgement.”
Event of the week: The OECD’s International Conference on AI in Work, Innovation Productivity and Skills
The OECD and the German Ministry of Labor and Social affairs host the International Conference on AI in Work, Innovation, Productivity and Skills. Scientists, tech specialists and business people will share their views from February 21st to 25th. Household names like MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and Estonia’s former president, Kersti Kaljulaid, will talk about the impact of AI. Registrations are still open: International Conference on AI in Work, Innovation, Productivity and Skills (oecd-events.org)
Making money with NFTs isn’t as strange as it seems
NFTs were all the rage in 2021 and headlines about young artists making a fortune within minutes puzzled and confused people like me who are not part of this world. Yet, with the metaverse possibly emerging soon, it is time to wonder how people can make a living with dematerialized products — and what is new about this.
I recommend Cleo Abram’s take on the NFT market and what makes these digital pictures actually worth their money: