The dark underbelly of AI gig economy

Jun 06, 2019, 8:45 AM EDT
(Source: Maurizio Pesce/flickr)
(Source: Maurizio Pesce/flickr)

Beneath the glittering layers of artificial intelligence (AI) lie some dark realities. The technology is giving rise to a new type of “ghost work,” the monotonous, banal job of manually labeling the datasets, which requires hours of slog from contractual workers.

Besides the invisibility of this unsung labor force, the “sweatshop” operation of this AI gig economy is really what’s more disturbing. Recently, during the swanky display of some of the new features of Google Assistant, which company proudly painted as “magic,” the real wizards had their voices drowned out in the fanfare.

The thousands of underpaid, sub-contracted workers who toiled at producing the linguistic datasets for powering Google Assistant face the rigours of an exploitative work culture, notes The Guardian.

Ironically, the AI gig economy that stands on the foundations laid by these temporary workers is automating the jobs of these very people, threatening their livelihood in not a very distant future, writes MIT Technology Review.