The Face Behind AI

Jan 20, 2021
5 min read

The introduction of the gig working model has allowed workers to have complete control over the project and the flexibility to work. Gig working models encourage freelancers to perform their assigned tasks from anywhere in the world. Hence many people prefer working as freelancers over full-time employees.

The gig economy has completely changed the traditional nature of work with three major dimensions - the work, the person who performs the task, and the place of work. The gig economy trending model changes the organization’s workplace policies and adopts new practices to hire experienced and talented professionals, aka gig workers.  

Who are Digital Gig Workers?
Unlike in-person gig workers such as couriers and delivering packages, digital gig workers can work online irrespective of where they reside. However, digital gig workers enjoy equal benefits of control, flexibility, and independence like in-person gig workers.  With the advancement of technology over the years, these digital gig workers now play an integral role in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Where do Companies Hire a Digital Gig Worker?
There are many ways to hire active freelancers to train AI and ML. Many corporate companies approach third-party agencies while other employers hire gig workers from digital platforms such as Upwork, LinkedIn, Behance, and more.

How Digital Gig Workers Contribute to AI?
AI needs the training to see the world like humans to deliver logical and accurate data to the audience. Big companies hire digital gig workers to train AIs so that they can understand the world better. From labeling the data to image data, these digital gig workers supervise the AI in recognizing patterns to make intelligent decisions. For instance, Amazon might be hiring transcribing digital gig workers to train the AI to understand the speech and recognize the voice algorithm. Some big tech giants also have their in-house versions.

Basic tasks performed by digital gig workers to train AIs:

  1. Image Classification- Digital gig workers train AIs to understand and classify the items in terms of colors, style, and more. It helps AI to recognize particular articles.
  2. Transcription of Data- AIs are supervised to produce transcriptions from video, audio, and images. It also enhances the recognition systems.
  3. Tags- The human training helps AIs maintain data, categories, and tags. With the use of these tags, the AI can recommend accurate data to the audience.

Benefits of Hiring a Digital Gig Worker

Finding the right digital gig worker to train AI is quite challenging. There are chances of mismatch of skills or lack of training skills. It is also difficult for companies to monitor and track the performance and productivity of the worker. Even after so many concerns, companies still prefer working with freelancers over full-time employees because of the following reasons:

  1. Lower labor cost- Hiring a freelancer is more cost-effective than hiring a full-time employee. Many freelancers charge hourly based or signed for one-time projects. There are no additional expenses such as travel or petrol remuneration because freelancers have the independence of working from anywhere.
  2. They have developed a niche- Freelancers are experts in the projects they choose to work on. They assure you result-oriented work and hold experience of several years in the industry. Therefore, many freelancers prefer working as individuals rather than having a tie-up with agencies.
  3. Freelancers assure quality work- Successful freelancers in the industry are very confident in their work and do not have to undergo trial and error terms. Sometimes freelancers are more efficient than the full-time employees for the same task because of their training on the subject for years.
  4. Heterogeneity- Freelancers work on a variety of projects with exposure to different styles of working. Because of their diverse skill set, it helps them to give projects a new perspective.
  5. Connections- Freelancers can help you connect the right person you are looking for. Because they work with different organizations, they are always in a good association with skilled professionals like designers, writers and more. So you can always ask them to refer to any of their connections that suits your project role.

Problems Faced by Digital Gig Worker

Like every coin has two faces, digital gig workers also have to face challenges while dealing with the companies. The artificial intelligence industry runs on the invisible human labor who often have to work under awful conditions.

  1. Low wages- Even after the complex process behind supervising an AI to make intelligent decisions, digital gig workers work on low wages. For many, these platforms are their only source of income. Reports suggest that digital gig workers earn $2 per hour - less than the US minimum wage.
  2. Less future job opportunities- Working as a digital gig worker can cut down on future job opportunities because not all employers know the subject. Many freelancers do not prefer adding these works to their profile.
  3. Ghost work- The invisible human labor behind the training of AIs do not get any credits. Ghost work is also a type of mistreatment to the freelancer’s work and ethics. A project done under the name of ghost work and low wage reward is equal to labor exploitation.
  4. No employment benefits- Unlike full-time employees, freelancers do not have access to employment benefits like health insurance, paid leaves, sick leave or retirement plans. This can land freelancers into rough economic situations.
  5. Not all freelancers are hired- With increasing demand for paid gig workers, everyone wants to have a flexible work life to balance personal and professional. But the bitter truth of the freelance industry is that not all freelancers are hired or not all the time you will be occupied with projects. There can be a time where you have no project in your hand  facing finance challenges.

The Future of Gig Economy in AI

AIs have indeed made human lives easy. Over the past couple of years, the application of AI has paced up in various industries. Many tech giants have successfully proved the use of AI amidst the COVID-19 situation.

Few examples of how AI had played a crucial role amidst the COVID-19 situation:

  1. Google Maps introduced the COVID Layer feature to alert their consumers about corona affected areas.
  2. AICOVID-19 can differentiate COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 coughs on your smartphones by sending three cough sounds through the AI engine producing results in 2 minutes.
  3. Apple introduced Apple Watch Series 6 with an inbuilt oximeter and claimed to work with health organizations to determine whether the device can identify a person contaminated with COVID-19.
  4. Aarogya Setu App launched to trace COVID-19 rule violators with AI cameras. Initially, installed in Hyderabad, Cyberabad, and Rachakonda.
  5. Big companies such as TATA used AI combined with Chest X-ray to identify abnormal findings in the lungs that is the main symptom of corona disease.

With scientists experimenting with the combination of AI and ML algorithms across various fields such as health and finance, AI has many undiscovered benefits. The growth of the gig economy relies on the use of technology and its advancements. By bringing awareness about the invisible human labor behind AI and supporting the digital gig workers, there can be a decline in gig worker’s exploitation. The increased use of AIs and demands for digital gig workers seem to boost the gig economy shortly.