Google Hired Microworkers to Train Its Controversial Project Maven AI


As indicated by a new report from The Intercept, Google hired economy workers to help build out a controversial AI program that the organization had paired with the Pentagon to build.

The workers were hired through a crowdsourcing gig company outfit called Figure Eight, which pays as little at $1 an hour for individuals to perform short, apparently mindless assignments. Regardless of whether the individuals were identifying objects in CAPTCHA-like images, or other simple tasks, the workers were helping Google’s AI that was made as a major aspect of a Defense Department initiative known as Project Maven.

Project Maven is a Pentagon project proposed to use machine learning and AI so as to separate individuals and objects in thousands of hours of drone footage. By employing these crowdsourced microworkers, Google could use them to teach the algorithms it was running how to distinguish between human targets and surrounding objects.

As indicated by The Intercept, these workers had no clue who their work was profiting or what they were building.

Last June, Google said that it had chosen not to renew its agreement with the Defense Department as it included Project Maven after more than 3,000 employees marked a petition in protest of the organization’s contribution in the initiative. The deal is set to end in March 2019.

Figure Eight, which was previously known as Crowdflower, is one of the largest platforms that uses microworkers. On its site, Figure Eight says its platform “combines AI at scale with cutting-edge models to create the highest quality training data for your machine learning (ML) projects.” By collaborating with these microworker outfits, Google could rapidly and inexpensively build out its AI.

“You upload your data to our platform and we provide the annotations, judgements, and labels you have to create precise ground truth for your models,” the site reads.


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