Recent reports suggest that Google hired a large number of volunteer workers to complete a controversial artificial intelligence project, which was previously a cooperation project between the company and the Pentagon. The workers were hired through a crowdsourcing company called Figure Eight. The company pays workers $1 an hour for them to complete short tasks. Whether these people are identifying objects like CAPTCHA images, or other simple tasks, they are helping to train Google’s AI. The AI is actually part of the Defense Department project, Project Maven.
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Project Maven, one of the Pentagon projects, uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to distinguish between people and objects. By hiring these crowdsourced odd jobs, Google can use them to teach algorithms on how to distinguish between human targets and surrounding objects. According to The Intercept, these workers don’t know who they are working for or what they are doing.
In June last year, Google said that the company had decided not to renew the contract with the Ministry of Defense. Because more than 3,000 company employees jointly petitioned to protest the company’s participation in the Department of Defense’s Project Maven program. It is reported that the existing contract will end in March 2019. Figure Eight is one of the largest platforms for hiring odd jobs. On the company’s website, Figure Eight said the platform “combines large-scale artificial intelligence with cutting-edge models to create the highest quality training data for customers’ machine learning projects.” By working with these odd-workers, Google can quickly and inexpensively Develop its own AI.