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They Helped Train Google's AI. Then They Got Fired After Speaking Out


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Ed Stackhouse speaks at a demonstration in front of Google headquarters.

With their letter to Congress, the workers joined a growing chorus of voices concerned about the rapid rollout of A.I. tools to millions of people.

Credit: Tech Equity Collaborative

A group of contract workers tasked with training Google's new AI chatbot said they were fired for speaking out about low pay and unreasonable deadlines they believe have left them unable to properly do their jobs and ensure the bots don't cause harm.

In a complaint filed to the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, six workers claim they were illegally fired for organizing by their employer Appen, which provides tens of thousands of contract workers for Big Tech firms. The workers say they had spent nearly a year pushing for better pay and working conditions, and were then fired two weeks after one of the most prominent worker organizers among them sent a letter to Congress saying their situation could lead to Google's chatbot, known as Bard, acting dangerously.

Workers who rate the chatbots "are often not given enough time to evaluate longer responses," one of the workers, Ed Stackhouse, 49, wrote in a May 15 letter to two senators leading a congressional hearing on the risks of AI. "The fact that raters are so exploited could lead to a faulty and ultimately more dangerous product."

From The Washington Post
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