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Labor

If the myth of tech over the past decade has been one of constant innovation, algorithmic scale, and new products and devices that “simply work,” the truth is that all of those illusions were made possible by the obfuscation of labor: the contract content moderators who sanitize the feeds of Facebook and YouTube from violence and extremist content; the warehouse workers at Amazon fulfillment centers trying to meet the guarantees of same-day shipping; the gig workers of all kinds — Uber drivers, food delivery cyclists, Instacart shoppers, among them — all of whom are at the whims of increasingly efficient platforms and wayward legislation. And that’s not even to speak of the white-collar tech workforce that, while better compensated, is still being taken advantage of by NDAs and mandatory arbitration clauses that keep hidden the realities of discrimination and harassment in the office. But now, some workers across tech companies are organizing for better treatment and pay. Others are making efforts to unionize. Most importantly, the movement will reach everyone who works in tech — and anyone who uses those platforms. The story of the tech industry over the next decade will be the reckoning brought on by its workforce.

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No adults in the room

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