Monday, January 09, 2017

The Humans Working Behind the AI Curtain (Harvard Business Review)

Excerpt from a timely AI reality check:

"We call this ever-moving frontier of AI’s development, the paradox of automation’s last mile: as AI makes progress, it also results in the rapid creation and destruction of temporary labor markets for new types of humans-in-the-loop tasks. By 2033, economists predict that tech innovation could convert 30% of today’s full-time occupations into augmented services completed “on demand” through a mix of automation and human labor. In short, AI will eliminate some work as it opens up opportunities for redefining what work humans do best. These AI-assisted augmented services, delivered by people quietly working in concert with bots, are poised to enhance our daily productivity but they also introduce new social challenges.

Much of the crowdwork done on contract today covers for AI when it can’t do something on its own. The dirty little secret of many services — from FacebookM to the “automatic” removal of heinous videos on YouTube, as well as many others — is that real live human beings clean up much of the web, behind the scenes. Those magical bots responding to your tweets complaining about your delayed pizza delivery or the service on your flight back to Boston? They are the new world of contract labor hidden underneath a layer of AI. A hybrid of humans and AI is remaking retail, marketing, and customer service. It turns out that AI, just like humans, struggles to make tough decisions about what content should and should not be included in our daily diets of social media, depending on what criteria or values we want to impose."
The Humans Working Behind the AI Curtain
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