While AI Companies Promise Heaven, Underage Workers Are Training Their Models

The rampant cynicism in Silicon Valley AI companies is beyond me

Alberto Romero


Perhaps the most startling reality of AI, in the worst possible sense of the word, is that in the same week, you can find an article entitled OpenAI chief seeks new Microsoft funds to build ‘superintelligence’ published next to another entitled Underage Workers Are Training AI.

A profoundly dystopian image emerges out of the sheer contrast between these two perspectives of the same AI revolution.

In one article, you get Sam, repeating his notoriously visionary claims about AI being a catalyst for an abundance of intelligence. OpenAI’s product is not ChatGPT (that’s just a trifle) but intelligence — and freedom of choice — for all.

On the other, you get Hassan, an eighteen-year-old Pakistani who started working in data labeling at fifteen as a gig worker doing outsourced tasks for more than 10 hours/day to reinforce the right behavior in AI systems — which surely will, in no time, free him of his predestination, as Sam predicts.

While Sam, the leading CEO of the AI revolution, promises the “magic intelligence in the sky,” Hassan, the forsaken worker of the invisible AI factory, says he lives under “digital slavery.”

That’s the greatest marketing operation that AI companies have successfully executed: Making people believe that AI is the engine that will take us all, together, to the stars when in reality it is deeply rooted — and rotten — into the worst vestiges of a world that we should have left behind long ago.

Like Saiph Savage says, “People just simply don’t know that there are human workers behind the scenes.” No matter how many times it is reported that this practice is commonplace and silently embraced by all major players, it always ends up buried — crushed in between articles praising ChatGPT’s feats, manifestos about the undisputable benefits of innovation, and open letters on the unfathomable risks that await us in an unpredictable future.

Now, of course, the platforms “require that workers be over 18” but these underage kids easily find ways to bypass the checks, driven by pure basic survival necessity. That’s the direct fault of the crowdsourcing platforms, but the AI leaders we all know so well, including OpenAI, Google, Anthropic, and Microsoft, are not free of…