The Humans Working Behind the AI Curtain
Mary L. Gray, Siddharth Suri
There is a human factor at work in tasks promoted as artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, in the form of people paid to respond to queries and requests sent to them via application programming interfaces of crowdwork systems, write Microsoft Research scientists Mary L. Gray and Siddharth Suri. "The creation of human tasks in the wake of technological advancement has been a part of automation's history since the invention of the machine lathe," they note. "We call this ever-moving frontier of AI's development the paradox of automation's last mile: as AI makes progress, it also results in the rapid creation and destruction of temporary labor markets for new types of humans-in-the-loop tasks."
Gray and Suri predict the enhancement of human services by AI will augment daily productivity, but present new social challenges. "The AI of today can't function without humans in the loop, whether it's delivering the news or a complicated pizza order," the researchers note. Technology and media companies therefore employ people to perform content moderation and curation, while many jobs are outsourced overseas and paid a low, flat rate. "This workforce deserves training, support, and compensation for being at-the-ready and willing to do an important job that many might find tedious or too demanding," according to Gray and Suri. .... "