ai companies fail to meet fair work standards for gig workers study
Digital labor platforms that recruit gig workers fail to meet minimum standards of fair work, says University of Oxford’s “Cloudwork Ratings 2023 report. It estimates that 163 million workers globally are active on freelance and micro-work platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk; Scale AI; Upwork; and Fiverr.
These platforms will continue expanding the global shift to remote work in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the meteoric rise of AI services that depend on human labor for training and moderation.
The report highlighted that 250 workers on the five platforms most commonly used by AI companies to find gig workers spent 26.8 percent of their time carrying out what it calls ‘unpaid tasks’, including looking for work, taking unpaid tests, and applying for work.
Dr Jonas CL Valente, researcher and lead author of the Fairwork Cloudwork 2023 Ratings, said many people rush to the latest technologies and enjoy the fruits of fast-paced innovation without stopping to think about how the product arrived to where it got.
“The ugly truth is that some of the cutting-edge technologies we are growing to love come at the expense of workers who depend on these platforms for their livelihood. Having year-over-year research diving into these topics, with new tech trends blooming each time, these platforms have failed to meet the basic standards of what constitutes fair working practices. “If the business model depends on circumventing regulation, then it’s time to address how these companies operate in markets around the world in our planetary economy.”
Valente said very world-renowned platforms are still among the worst scores. “We still have a very big problem with platforms that are not acknowledging the need to improve their workers’ conditions”.
The report noted that while the run for AI deployments gets public hype and momentum, workers behind the design, building and testing of these technological solutions, face enormous challenges and experience unfair working conditions. It found that workers spend much of their time carrying out unpaid labor.