Why is it important?
This is a segment of contract labour hidden beneath a layer of AI. The bulk of this type of work is content moderation which is outsourced to workers around the globe. Several problems arise as there is little transparency about their training, work environments or protocols for making editorial decisions. Many of these workers typically receive minimum wages for a job that others may find too tedious or demeaning. Then there is the very real problem of privacy and confidentiality. Algorithms can be devised to protect data, but by inserting a human in the loop, data leaks become a real possibility. This is especially critical in areas like healthcare, finance, or government systems.
What can businesses do about it?
If you are contemplating using the services of a company that claims to be AI driven, do your homework. Enquire if there are any humans in the AI process, especially if confidentiality is a critical factor. Also, if employment fairness is a priority, you presumably would not wish to be complicit in a system of low wages – another reason why tech companies need to be transparent about their practices. They should be accountable for and to these ‘invisible’ workers, not to mention their customers. A company that claims one thing and acts in another way does not inspire confidence. If you’re an investor take special care: it’s not unheard of for companies to tell investors they have developed scalable AI technology while secretly relying on human intelligence.
By Faeeza Khan
Image credit: Kevin Ku