November 5, 2023•379 words
Each Cruse car needed to be helped out, on average, every 2.5 miles. Cruse employed more remote employees to fix this than it would have drivers. All so we could live out our Jetsons fantasy.
Each shiny and polished OpenAI product had to be scraped clean of profanity, bias, and racism at prototype stage by remote workers in Kenya, on a pittance. All so we could fantasise about the coming benevolent singularity.
Each new neural network is trained by gig workers in developing countries, without stable employment. All so we can marvel at AI's smarts.
I remember watching a reaction video of a young lad in one of Cruse's cars, exclaiming in amazement: "How does it KNOW?"
We've all been there, we've all been so impressed. We've all wondered how "it" does "that".
And at some point in the process, "it" is really a person somewhere, and "that" is labour which got appropriated and magicked away by the machine.
A gig worker. A writer. An artist. You - filling out the CAPTCHA.
AI = Ain't It. I'm writing it in 2023, and driverless cars need 1.5 drivers per car, and GPT's intelligence is real human work fed into the neural network, and cleaning up the prototypes after it's done.
If you want to keep selling me an arrangement like this, then I'm listening and I'm patient. I've done enough gig work to pay for my LEGOs, and enough GPT/neural network research to know what's at stake and what's good about it. And I'm hoping for a "Fairtrade" approach to this in the future. As a labour market, a creative market, it may still work for everyone who wants in.
But if you want to keep selling me (or my learners) AI on the premise of "unleashing creativity" and "transforming the education landscape", and you refuse to discuss the tech-colonial underpinning of that offer, then I've got a problem with it. And, frankly, it starts the moment you try to cram this rich, populous, messy landscape in a black box labeled "Artificial Intelligence." Ain't it, mate.
I don't want any worker, or learner, or boss, or teacher, to live in that REM's "Shiny Happy People" video, where they're only aware of one side of it.