The Coloniality of Data Work for Machine Learning

When and Where

Wednesday, March 09, 2022 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Online Event


Julian Posada


Many research and industry organizations outsource data generation, annotation, and algorithmic verification—or data work—to workers worldwide through digital platforms. A subset of the gig economy, these platforms consider workers independent users with no employment rights, pay them per task, and control them with automated algorithmic managers. This talk explores how the coloniality of data work is characterized by an extractivist method of generating data that privileges profit and the epistemic dominance of those in power. Social inequalities are reproduced through the data production process, and local worker communities mitigate these power imbalances by relying on family members, neighbours, and colleagues online. Furthermore, management in outsourced data production ensures that workers’ voices are suppressed in the data annotation process through algorithmic control and surveillance, resulting in datasets generated exclusively by clients, with their worldviews encoded in algorithms through training.

This is an online event, available on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel, on Wednesday, March 2. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start. (For other events in the series, and to subscribe, visit

Julian Posada, Faculty of Information
University of Toronto

04:00 PM - 05:30 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto

Contact Information


Centre for Ethics