Work → In Progress: Finding A Job In The Matrix

Work → In Progress: Finding A Job In The Matrix
Carl-Johan Karlsson

In early civilizations, landing a job amounted to interning until your employer died. Fast-forward a few thousand years and fortunately, internships have gotten shorter ... and life expectancy has gotten longer! Still, job hunting has become a journey marked by alternating pulls of hope and hysteria. The swift ascension of global connectedness, Artificial Intelligence, the shifting nature of social norms are uprooting the way we're evaluated by recruiters.

This edition of Work → In Progress dives into how these transformations affect us today and what expectations we should have for recruitment in the future. In many countries, the classic curriculum vitae is becoming obsolete as recruiters use AI and virtual-reality simulations to evaluate candidates; in Russia, employers are shifting their focus from looks to merit; while in the U.S., "likability" might soon be more important than your masters' degree.​

WHAT IF AI DOESN'T LIKE ME? In Amsterdam, ketchup manufacturer Kraft Heinz relies on Artificial Intelligence to recruit, assess, hire, and manage their staff. Defenders of AI-based recruitment claim it removes human bias and promotes diversity, but others say it might just as well enhance existing biases or actively create new ones since the algorithms must be designed by human (usually male) developers. It's still probably too early to decide whether machines should be welcomed as gatekeepers to our dream jobs. Frida Polli, CEO of the AI-driven recruitment platform used by Heinz, puts it this way: "AI is like teenage sex, everyone says they're doing it, and nobody really knows what it is."​


Big Brother is watching, and we are starting to like it: In 2015, only 30% of companies were using monitoring techniques to collect data on how employees spend their time at work, reports Workplace Intelligence. That number is expected to grow to 80% in 2020. Today, 30% of people say they are comfortable with having their email monitored by employers, up from 10% in 2015.

BIG OR THICK, OR BOTH? Perhaps the way to a bias-free recruitment process is to merge artificial and human intelligence. Big data can provide real-time information on consumer and social trends, but a deeper social analysis would require adding "thick data" — or information derived from human behavior. Diego Fuentes dives into these two data types in Santiago-based America Economia, and Worldcrunch has the full article here in English.

NO RESUMES NEEDED! In addition to the new challenge of outfoxing algorithms, your future career might ultimately depend on a much more basic standard: whether people like you. Psychologist Dawn Graham writes in Forbes on the topic of "likability," which many believe is an innate quality. Yet Graham gives some practical advice on how to raise your likability quotient during a job interview:

1: Be Human! A big part of the interview is evaluating if you're a good fit for the team. That isn't something you can fake ... Prepare the best you can, and then be yourself.

2: Know Your Audience. In order to sell the product (which is you), it's critical to know what's important to the buyer.

RUSSIAN BEAUTY A study found that the number of employers in Russia who saw appearance as an important recruitment factor has fallen from 82% to 66% over the last decade, reports Rossiyskaya Gazeta. While many in the looks-conscious country may still airbrush their LinkedIn photo, the study found that employees now perceive looks as less important in career advancement, down from 84% to 60% over the same period.


GREEN-COLLAR JOBS IN ARGENTINA A more sustainable economy has created a new workforce in advanced fields like electricity generation, transportation and energy storage. However, not all green-collar jobs require a master's degree. In Argentina, more than 150,000 people work with recovering recyclable materials in urban centers or at garbage dumps, reports La Nacion. Under the banner of "inclusive recycling," many of the workers are organizing in cooperatives to promote social security. On average, every worker recovers about 100 kilos of waste per day — the equivalent of what is generated by 100 people.


How far is it from New York to Buffalo? Why is cast iron called pig iron? What country produce the finest china?

You don't know?! Well, then we regret to inform you that Thomas Edison wouldn't have hired you. A century ago, Edison pioneered the employment form, with his 146-question quiz for prospective employees at his power plant. In 1921, the New York Times revealed the quiz, which became a national topic of controversy. Reporters even took the test to Albert Einstein who flunked for not knowing the exact speed of sound … Duh. Trivia masochists can take the test, republished here on Gizmodo. And we'll leave it to the AI developers to feed Edison's data into their next algorithm!

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How Thailand's Lèse-Majesté Law Is Used To Stifle All Protest

Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.

Pro-Democracy protest at The Criminal Court in Bangkok, Thailand

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

"We need to reform the institution of the monarchy in Thailand. It is the root of the problem." Those words, from Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan, are a clear expression of the growing youth-led movement that is challenging the legitimacy of the government and demanding deep political changes in the Southeast Asian nation. Yet those very same words could also send Sirikan to jail.

Thailand's Criminal Code 'Lèse-Majesté' Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family.

But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.

The recent report 'Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand', documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations."

Criticism of any 'royal project'

The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. Nineteen of them served jail time. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.

Juthatip Sirikan explains that the law is now being applied in such a broad way that people are not allowed to question government budgets and expenditure if they have any relationship with the royal family, which stifles criticism of the most basic government decision-making since there are an estimated 5,000 ongoing "royal" projects. "Article 112 of lèse-majesté could be the key (factor) in Thailand's political problems" the young activist argues.

In 2020 the Move Forward opposition party questioned royal spending paid by government departments, including nearly 3 billion baht (89,874,174 USD) from the Defense Ministry and Thai police for royal security, and 7 billion baht budgeted for royal development projects, as well as 38 planes and helicopters for the monarchy. Previously, on June 16, 2018, it was revealed that Thailand's Crown Property Bureau transferred its entire portfolio to the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

photo of graffiti of 112 crossed out on sidewalk

Protestors In Bangkok Call For Political Prisoner Release

Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

Freedom of speech at stake

"Article 112 shuts down all freedom of speech in this country", says Sirikan. "Even the political parties fear to touch the subject, so it blocks most things. This country cannot move anywhere if we still have this law."

The student activist herself was charged with lèse-majesté in September 2020, after simply citing a list of public documents that refer to royal family expenditure. Sirikan comes from a family that has faced the consequences of decades of political repression. Her grandfather, Tiang Sirikhan was a journalist and politician who openly protested against Thailand's involvement in World War II. He was accused of being a Communist and abducted in 1952. According to Sirikhan's family, he was killed by the state.

The new report was conducted by The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR), and Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw). It accuses Thai authorities of an increasingly broad interpretation of Article 112, to the point of "absurdity," including charges against people for criticizing the government's COVID-19 vaccine management, wearing crop tops, insulting the previous monarch, or quoting a United Nations statement about Article 112.

Juthatip Sirikan speaks in front of democracy monument.

Shift to social media

While in the past the Article was only used against people who spoke about the royals, it's now being used as an alibi for more general political repression — which has also spurred more open campaigning to abolish it. Sirikan recounts recent cases of police charging people for spreading paint near the picture of the king during a protest, or even just for having a picture of the king as phone wallpaper.

The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them.

Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind. In October 2020, Twitter took down 926 accounts, linked to the army and the government, which promoted themselves and attacked political opposition, and this June, Google removed two Maps with pictures, names, and addresses, of more than 400 people who were accused of insulting the Thai monarchy. "They are trying to control the internet as well," Sirikan says. "They are trying to censor every content that they find a threat".

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