Stay up to date with the HUMAN project through our bi-monthly newsletter.
A new era: HUMAN Protocol and revolutionizing the gig economy
Change is the nature of existence — but, sometimes, fate drops in an accelerator agent. This time, it was a global pandemic, which arrived at the tail end of a decade of digital transformation. Suddenly, changing the ways we live and work was not only possible, but necessary. Chartering new territory, our definitions — of work, of life — are now cast into liminal spaces between the world we knew, and the world we’re still creating.
At work, we’re eschewing four-walled spaces, writ-in-stone schedules, and rehearsed routines. From upheaval comes the desire for difference: to make better what was and rebalance the scales. This begins with the realization that alternatives are possible; that we are able to work from home, that we need not be reliant on commutes and physical proximity. It also means realizing that the ways we produce value have changed, from the roles we fulfill to the day-to-day tasks we perform.
Over the past decade, and beginning with the 2008 financial crisis, the gig economy has grown exponentially. In America today, 36% of workers freelance; during the Covid-19 pandemic, freelancing generated $1.2 trillion for the US economy. The growth is similar elsewhere; gig work has become an accessible option for those unable to find or support conventional roles.
Gig work is piecemeal work, able to accommodate the uneven edges of our schedules, the gaps between available opportunity and available resources (that is, our time and knowledge). For some, it provides essential supplementary income. For others, it is an alternative to acquiring a new full-time role: the pushing together of many small opportunities to create one greater. The rise of gig work has created a gig labor force. For the first time, everyone — not just specialists — can make a living from the activities they perform, rather than the roles they fulfill.
But the gig market is fraught with challenges. Gig workers have traditionally had little financial security; they do not receive the benefits of employees, and the fly-by nature of the work prohibits reliable routines. Gig workers live and work precariously. One week’s success holds little bearing on the next.
Gig work is part of the solution, but not the entire solution. The financial instability we have known may only be a prelude to what’s to come. There is no going back. The ways we live and work have changed. What’s left is to determine the shape that change takes, and identify where our new foundations should lie. It cannot be down to a few to determine the fate of the many. As it stands, gig work is formed into closed markets: Uber does not share its drivers with similar companies. Work is available, but within a narrow bandwidth of what could be available.
To create a fairer, more transparent, and securer labor market, new infrastructure is required. Infrastructure that maximizes the availability of opportunities — by becoming global — more than it throws up roadblocks to accessing them. That infrastructure is HUMAN Protocol.
HUMAN Protocol — a blockchain-based infrastructure for distributed labor markets — powers the gig economies of the future: decentralized, accessible, and abundant. Through the Protocol, jobs are replaced by open, global marketplaces of tasks big and small, requiring different knowledge, background, and skills. These include data labeling and data feedback, empowering a new generation of gig workers — and, through them, a new generation of AI and ML technologies.
It aims to create workforces liberated from centralized control, untied to any single company, market, or geographical region. Control — of time, value, and data — would be returned to the worker. We are shaping a market with fewer constraints, in which access is not determined by background and the distribution of reward is unimpacted by intermediary intervention.
The labor markets enabled by the Protocol are designed to be ‘trustless’ — in that there is no requirement of trust. Any party would be able to submit a task — known as the Requester — and any worker with the requisite skills and knowledge may complete it. Each task is securely embedded in the blockchain as a smart contract — an immutable, programmable agreement — which details the conditions of the task. Payment is secured within the smart contract until the task is verified as complete, which is achieved using oracles: essentially, real-world information scouts.
The gig economy is composed largely of blue-collar jobs, such as driving cars or delivering packages. HUMAN Protocol dramatically expands the gig economy to accommodate a greater variety of backgrounds. To empower, in the first instance, globally representative machine learning through improved data labeling, tasks can require not only visual inferences — for example, in the case of captcha systems — but detailed observations and feedback, such as the identification of a malignant tumor, a car part, a line of code, or the cultural-specific interpretation of a piece of clothing.
Similarly, HUMAN Protocol supports marketplaces in which big tasks can be atomized into composite smaller tasks. Entire projects may be completed through the diverse expertise and background of a global workforce. As we become micro with our time — managing it to account for a greater degree of variability, obligation, and uncertainty — so must we with our work.
HUMAN Protocol tokenizes and makes fungible tasks of any size and requirement to help workers — independent of any entity — maximize their time and resources, to perform the tasks to which they are most suited, at a time they are most productive.
To navigate the wending pathways of change, and the temporary chaos they enfold, innovation is required. Uncertainty demands a reciprocal position of flexibility. HUMAN Protocol aims to ensure a minority do not control the prospects of the majority; that workers, of any background, based anywhere in the globe, are able to access a global marketplace of opportunities.
By supporting the creation of these marketplaces, HUMAN Protocol is working to democratize access to labor and ensure a better distribution of value for tasks completed, including, but in no way limited to, data labeling and data feedback. It is the start of the world’s largest labor marketplace, disintermediated and made trustless, serving what is becoming the world’s largest workforce: that of the gig worker.
The HUMAN Protocol Foundation makes no representation, warranty, or undertaking, express or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or reasonableness of the information contained here. Any assumptions, opinions, and estimations expressed constitute the HUMAN Protocol Foundation’s judgment as of the time of publishing and are subject to change without notice. Any projection contained within the information presented here is based on a number of assumptions, and there can be no guarantee that any projected outcomes will be achieved.