The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Behind the AI boom, an army of overseas workers in 'digital sweatshops'

By Rebecca Tan and Regine Cabato

28 Aug 2023 · 8 min read

informed Summary

  1. More than 2 million people in the Philippines are involved in "crowdwork", annotating data to train AI models for American companies. This work is often low-paid and subject to exploitation.

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines - In a coastal city in the southern Philippines, thousands of young workers log online every day to support the booming business of artificial intelligence.

In dingy internet cafes, jam-packed office spaces or at home, they annotate the masses of data that American companies need to train their artificial intelligence models. The workers differentiate pedestrians from palm trees in videos used to develop the algorithms for automated driving; they label images so AI can generate representations of politicians and celebrities; they edit chunks of text to ensure language models like ChatGPT don't churn out gibberish.

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