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AI Insight Forum: Urgency needed to protect data laborers

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Becka Bowyer

Low-paid data workers who train AI models sent a letter to lawmakers ahead of a Senate meeting with AI leaders today urging Congress to protect their rights.

Aditya Vashistha

Assistant Professor of Information Science

Aditya Vashistha, assistant professor of information science at Cornell University, studies computing systems with a focus on the Global South. He says those most adversely affected by AI systems are notably underrepresented in current discourse.

Vashistha says:

“The AI Insight Forum currently faces a significant challenge in terms of representation, as the voices of data workers and those most adversely affected by AI systems are notably underrepresented. The letter serves as an important initial step in raising awareness among lawmakers about the hardships endured by data workers and urging them to incorporate these voices into the conversation.

“However, this letter misses one critical aspect. A substantial portion of data work today is carried out in developing regions and often it is these data workers who bear the brunt of arduous and hazardous responsibilities to detoxify AI systems, as exemplified by the East African workers who were exposed to distressing content while sanitizing ChatGPT.
“The letter falls short in emphasizing the urgency of establishing regulatory frameworks that extend protection not just to data workers within the United States but to the entire global network of data laborers, particularly those residing and working in developing countries beyond the purview of U.S. regulatory authorities.”

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