What’s Behind the AI Industry’s Data Labeling Jobs?

data labeling jobs, data, labeling, jobs, ai

Child Exploitation

Children hold data-labeling jobs just so harmful content steers clear of your precious AI system.

  • Hassan played his role in the global AI supply chain through online crowdsourcing platforms.
  • He’s not the only child who has to sacrifice his innocence just to feed appropriate content to AI.

For the past year, we’ve been complaining about the bias of AI technology due to the data sets used in their training. But did we ever stop to think about who’s sifting through mountains of materials to determine what stays and what goes?

Yeah, it’s not adult. It’s children whose circumstances forced them into taking a seat in front of their screens and sifting through the worst humanity has to offer for hours at a time. For a dollar or three.

A recent WIRED report told the story of Hassan, from Pakistan. When he was 15, at the height of the pandemic, he took on a seemingly innocent data-labeling job through online crowdsourcing platforms like Toloka. He would upload and label data to train algorithms for some of the world’s largest AI companies. Another form of content moderation.

What awaited him, however, are

  • Depictions of rape and murder extracted from articles
  • Hate speech from social media posts
  • Child pornography from god knows where
  • Pornographic videos of women and girls from TikTok and YouTube

I’m in my mid-20s and something dies in me every day with every post, story, article, and video of such content I encounter. What does this do to our kids then? Hassan admits that this content still weighs heavily on his mental health.

Are we so depraved as a society that for the sake of technological advancements we ruin childhood innocence before it is even ready? Just shave off years of our kids’ lifetimes so some white collar in his skyscraper doesn’t have to write his own email.

What would you do if you found out that your child was absorbing gore, violence, and devastation all in the name of helping make ends meet? You would go after whoever is allowing such unethical practices. Wouldn’t you?

We are allowing screwed and skewed implementations of AI throughout our lives: governance, child-rearing, and deepfakes. But it turns out that we are also unethically producing it.

You’ve seen the images and videos circulating lately of the Palestine-Israel conflict. The blood, the gore, the death, and the dead. Can you imagine your 13-year-old wide-eyed self spending over 8 hours a day looking at that content? And then only getting paid 1$?

Companies pay a dollar, and the kids pay with their sanity.

What a fair trade…

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