Machine teachers

January 11, 2020

“We definitely need to be heard. I think a lot is said about AI, but little about us [turkers], which made this area and its applications feasible. I exist and I want you and others to know that”.

“I want more jobs so I can live my life in style”.

“Flexibility is the future”.

“I strongly believe in artificial intelligence and it is an honor to be able to help in a certain way”.

“I have adhered to a working model that will be common in the coming years”.

“One day I wondered how interesting it would be if I could receive not only cash payments but courses, to make me smarter and thus contribute to an even better technology. It would be nice if I were seen as a teacher – not that a teacher is highly valued in Brazil, but it should. A teacher of machines...”.

Some phrases from Brazilian remote workers who work on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform and, among other services, train the so-called Artificial Intelligence. For a few months, Gabriel Pereira and I approached these workers to understand if there was any specificity among Brazilians who work in this role. There were more than one: difficulties in receiving their payments directly, growing mobilization via WhatsApp groups and a desire to be heard.  This is how this article was born, written for an edition of Revista Contracampo on platform work, organized by Rafael Grohmann and Jack Qiu, with the help of Gustavo Aires and professor Fabio Gagliardi Cozman.

This article is also valuable for me, as it was the beginning of a network of listening, learning and exchanges between many Brazilian turkers – real people who create the pseudo-automatic automation of supposedly intelligent machines.