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As Thales of Miletus challenged, ‘the most difficult thing in life is to know thyself’. What this ancient philosopher would never have imagined perhaps is now a question we can re- formulate: ‘the most difficult thing in life is when artificial intelligence knows thyself’. Over the past thousands of years, the concept of self and being have driven a great deal of Western philosophy. Now, we are now able to take quite seriously a new actor in the field of self-framing: that of machines. Given the increase in data usage by people and organi- sations for what is often access to basic services, and the seeming imminence of wide- spread application of AI into business operations globally, the idea that data can be used to create versions of selves, or what I will discuss here as ‘data subjects’, is itself quite new when framed against a history of philosophical questions.

About the author

Phoebe V Moore
Prof Dr Phoebe V Moore is Professor of Management and the Futures of Work, University of Essex School of Business and Senior Research Fellow, International Labour Organization Research Department. In 2021, she was a ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bremen. She has been writing about work and worker struggle since 1997 when she lived in South Korea during the East Asian economic crisis, and her research highlights specific pressures workers face in contemporary and historical context. Her current research looks at the impact of technology on work from a critical perspective, looking at quantification through wearable tracking and algorithmic decision-making as a set of management techniques where control and resistance emerge as well as new risks of psychosocial and physical violence (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). Her previous work looked at the role of trade unions in international development and poverty policy in relation to International Labour Organization’s multilateral relationships (2014); subjectivity and the radical potentials of non-proprietary peer to peer production linking workers across virtual spaces (2009, 2011); and the globalization of worker education from a neo-Gramscian perspective where hegemony is not yet solidified, evidenced through consistent worker uprisings internationally (2005, 2006, 2007).