The digital work exploitation

Nothing new under the sun!

Calogero Massimo Cammalleri, University of Palermo

The paper jointly studies the impact of work through digital platforms and of the vast AI robotics implementation on issues of employment law and social security. The point of view and the remedy that is suggested are both quite unorthodox. The point of view is one of law and literature; the remedy is taken from law and economics. Even if the essay agrees that the proposal of introducing both a social contribution on robots and a new regulation via apps poses the right question, it holds that such solutions are not necessarily the right way. In fact, since these would ‘anthropomorphise’ robots and algorithms, it would inevitably be useless, similar to an increase in social contributions. Conversely, the article proposes a radical change in perspective, deeming that social protection in the digital era requires new relationships between ‘every’ market and ‘the’ social justice. For the latter purpose, the article proposes to break the two alternative dichotomies of Bismarckian/Beveridgean systems of social provisions and that of employee/independent-contractor (at the level of regulation through the law). In this regard, such change is reached without extending the regulation of employees. Consequently, the essay suggests introducing a new ‘uniform’ and indirect financial system for protections for those who are not in a Standard Employment Relationship. Such a ‘uniform’ financing device for social contributions is based on the ‘added value’ of work rather than (the opposite of how it actually is) based either on the wage of an employee or on the earnings of the self-employed. This way, the shifting boundaries of contracts between companies or firms and employees or workers, or even the self-employed and so on, can be overcome because no particular contract is needed for protection. The same applies to the use of robots.