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AI is Fake

Much of what we refer to as Artificial Intelligence is built on human labor, performed by some of the most exploited workers on the planet. In Phil Jones’ 2021 book “Work without the Worker: Labor in the Age of Platform Capitalism”, the author describes the rise of “microwork”, a new regime of labor involving the processing of data necessary for it to be useful to Artificial Intelligence algorithms. This involves minute piecework tasks like identifying objects in images (you also do this everytime you fill out a CAPTCHA) flagging violence and pornography, and the like; all run on platforms like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Appen, or Clickworker. These are websites where workers without too many other options compete for tiny, hardly paid tasks. The simplicity and ubiquity of these tasks means that they can be farmed out to people in extremely marginal situations, with the result that a lot of this work ends up getting done by refugees, migrants, and prisoners.

What we call Artificial Intelligence isn’t, to put it bluntly. It won’t be. Even Jeff Bezos, the pioneer of one of the most highly exploitative platforms, refers to the output of microworkers as producing “Artificial artificial intelligence”. Like almost all other forms of this scam, what we are really faced with here is a tool to discipline workers- and to make it harder for them to organize. Solidarity with microworkers around the world means that we have to come up with a way to fight back.

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