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AI Has a Dirty Little Secret: It's Powered by People

There's a dirty little secret about artificial intelligence: It's powered by an army of real people. From makeup artists in Venezuela to women in conservative parts of India, people around the world are doing the digital equivalent of needlework -drawing boxes around cars in street photos, tagging images, and transcribing snatches of speech that computers can't quite make out. Such data feeds directly into "machine learning" algorithms that help self-driving cars wind through traffic and let Alexa figure out that you want the lights on. Many such technologies wouldn't work without massive quantities of this human-labeled data. These repetitive tasks pay pennies apiece. But in bulk, this work can offer a decent wage in many parts of the world - even in the U.S. And it underpins a technology that could change humanity forever: AI that will drive us around, execute verbal commands without flaw, and - possibly - one...

 

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