In the AI food chain we imagine robots serve us. But the near term reality is much darker. Rich humans are on top, robots are in the middle and a small army of African data workers sits at the bottom, training artificial intelligence to be less vulgar, less sexual, less gross and less criminally minded.

Their prize is $2/day, despite the billion dollar valuations of startups and tech giants benefiting from their digital house cleaning. It's becoming part of a pattern of the still nascent AI industry. It feels somewhat similar to these firms hoovering up millions of images to train their robots how to paint without asking the people who made those images if they approved and certainly without paying them.

AI companies brag about how much money they spend on super computers. But never speak of how little money they spend on the humans needed to make the robots make sense.

Time reporter Billy Perrigo blew all this wide open in a blockbuster story in Time this week. It's a must read with powerful passages like this.

One Sama worker tasked with reading and labeling text for OpenAI told TIME he suffered from recurring visions after reading a graphic description of a man having sex with a dog in the presence of a young child. "That was torture,” he said. “You will read a number of statements like that all through the week. By the time it gets to Friday, you are disturbed from thinking through that picture.”

And yet there must be a better way. We have a few ideas on where the industry should start...


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