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The trainer, the verifier, the imitator: Three ways in which human platform workers support artificial intelligence

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  • Paola Tubaro

    () (CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, TAU - TAckling the Underspecified - LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - UP11 - Université Paris-Sud - Paris 11 - CentraleSupélec - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Inria Saclay - Ile de France - Inria - Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique, LRI - Laboratoire de Recherche en Informatique - UP11 - Université Paris-Sud - Paris 11 - CentraleSupélec - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IDHES - Institutions et Dynamiques Historiques de l'Économie et de la Société - ENS Cachan - École normale supérieure - Cachan - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - UP8 - Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UEVE - Université d'Évry-Val-d'Essonne)

  • Antonio Casilli

    () (SID - Sociologie Information-Communication Design - I3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217) - Institut interdisciplinaire de l’innovation - X - École polytechnique - Télécom ParisTech - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, SES - Département Sciences Economiques et Sociales - Télécom ParisTech, IP Paris - Institut Polytechnique de Paris)

  • Marion Coville

    () (IAE Poitiers - Institut d'Administration des Entreprises (IAE) - Poitiers - Université de Poitiers, CEREGE - CEntre de REcherche en GEstion - EA 1722 - Université de Poitiers - ULR - Université de La Rochelle - IAE Poitiers - Institut d'Administration des Entreprises (IAE) - Poitiers - Université de Poitiers)

Abstract

This paper sheds light on the role of digital platform labour in the development of today's artificial intelligence, predicated on data-intensive machine learning algorithms. Focus is on the specific ways in which outsourcing of data tasks to myriad 'micro-workers', recruited and managed through specialized platforms, powers virtual assistants, self-driving vehicles and connected objects. Using qualitative data from multiple sources, we show that micro-work performs a variety of functions, between three poles that we label, respectively, 'artificial intelligence preparation', 'artificial intelligence verification' and 'artificial intelligence impersonation'. Because of the wide scope of application of micro-work, it is a structural component of contemporary artificial intelligence production processes - not an ephemeral form of support that may vanish once the technology reaches maturity stage. Through the lens of micro-work, we prefigure the policy implications of a future in which data technologies do not replace human workforce but imply its marginalization and precariousness.

Suggested Citation

  • Paola Tubaro & Antonio Casilli & Marion Coville, 2020. "The trainer, the verifier, the imitator: Three ways in which human platform workers support artificial intelligence," Post-Print hal-02554196, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-02554196
    DOI: 10.1177/2053951720919776
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02554196
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2018. "The Race between Man and Machine: Implications of Technology for Growth, Factor Shares, and Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(6), pages 1488-1542, June.
    2. David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-1597, August.
    3. Siou Chew Kuek & Cecilia Paradi-Guilford & Toks Fayomi & Saori Imaizumi & Panos Ipeirotis & Patricia Pina & Manpreet Singh, 2015. "The Global Opportunity in Online Outsourcing," World Bank Other Operational Studies 22284, The World Bank.
    4. David H. Autor, 2015. "Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
    5. Schmidt, Florian A., 2019. "Crowdproduktion von Trainingsdaten: Zur Rolle von Online-Arbeit beim Trainieren autonomer Fahrzeuge," Study / edition der Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Düsseldorf, volume 127, number 417, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Digital platform labour; micro-work; datafied production processes; artificial intelligence; machine learning;

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