Skilled workers are training AI to take over their jobs


Earning up to $60 an hour, Jay was an early recruiter who joined Remotask a month before OpenAI introduced ChatGPT to the world. Since then, the platform has been ramping up its search for expert data workers. In January 2024, WIRED found, the company published job ads looking for speakers of more than 20 different European languages, as well as U.S.-based creative writers, sports journalists, chemistry experts and nuclear physicists.

“Left to their own devices, generative AI can be prone to hallucinations, and even if this is factual, there are ways to improve them to make the answers more comprehensive,” says Primack. “Experts are needed to ultimately produce data that really advances AI in terms of its potential,” she says.

Primack says Remotask still maintains a “large operational footprint” in the Philippines. But most of the company's new specialist contractors are in the US, she says, while many of the language postings are located in Europe where native speakers live. Primac has been less clear about what exactly prompted the change. Were specific scale AI customers asking for more expert data, or did the company try to anticipate what the next generation of AI would need? “It's a combination of both,” she says, explaining that expert staff are training data for multiple clients, not just one.

Researchers have their own theories on what these specialist roles mean about the direction of the AI ​​industry.

“Before, most of the AI ​​technologies we use have been trained on large, garbage-dump data sets,” says Milagros Miceli, who leads the data, algorithmic systems and ethics research group at the Weizenbaum Research Institute in Berlin. ” OpenAI created ChatGPT partly by scouring the Internet and paying workers to flag toxic content in Kenya. But scraping data this way is leading to lawsuits against publishers and rights owners, and many major publishers are now stopping data collection. Miceli says the solution is to pay experts.

“In the last year, companies have actually been creating new data to avoid those types of corporate copyright complaints,” says Miceli. “If you hire a writer to write stories specifically for the purpose of training your model, and you pay them, you own the rights to those texts. Now you don’t have any copyright issues.”

Since ChatGPT's inception, study after study has predicted disruption in industries typically occupied by college-educated people in the US and Europe – a workforce previously thought to be generally protected from technological change. was considered. Despite those concerns, the proposed salary could make it harder for some to leave training programs, leading to their obsolescence.

Pay for specialist roles varies depending on expertise. According to current job postings, an infectious disease specialist can earn up to $40 per hour on Remotask, while historians are offered $32 per hour. People hired to train algorithms in specific languages ​​get paid less. A Bulgarian writer's job was advertised at a rate of $5.64 per hour, while the job listing showed that Finnish speakers could earn almost five times the rate of $23 per hour.