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How Do You Know That Your “AI” Isn’t a Human Being?

AI often depends not on geniuses, but on thousands of anonymous, toiling human workers

Many people think that AI happens without human intervention. In reality, many toiling workers help make it possible.

In a piece at Medium on ethical dangers of AI, Dorothea Baur (pictured) lists four concerns but one stands out. And it’s not science fiction:

4. AI hype downplays human contribution AI hype is also part of stories that exaggerate the capabilities of AI in the present when effectively humans are still doing most of the work — we have all heard about the thousands of ghost workers who are manually labeling data to feed algorithms under dire working conditions. So, presenting something as machine intelligence when it’s actually human intelligence, is also dishonest and it deprecates the humans doing the real work.

Dorothea Baur, “Four reasons why hyping AI is an ethical problem” at Medium (November 21, 2020)

Indeed. Consider these stories, for example:

➤ What happens when AI needs a human I? artificial intelligence You think a machine is doing that job but it’s actually a worker like you, advertised as Big High Tech.

➤ Hey, that “lifelike” effect was easier to come by than some might think. Because it turns out, they are people!

➤ Facebook moderators are not who we think they are. It’s awful. Companies offer terrible working conditions partly because they think AI will just take over soon. Those working conditions are a given, absent worker protection. The AI takeover… mmm, not so much.

What if, instead of the computers taking over, the people who profit from awful tech working conditions take over and tell the story any way they want?


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How Do You Know That Your “AI” Isn’t a Human Being?