The Impact of AI Systems like ChatGPT on Low-Wage Trainers


The success ofChatGPT, an AI system from the OpenAI team, and other AI systems relies on the hard work of a hidden contractor workforce. These invisible laborers, often making less than $15 per hour, help train and improve these technologically advanced systems.

Alexej Savreux, a 34-year-old from Kansas City with a background in various industries, leads this army of AI trainers. His work entails labeling images, providing data for the training process, and predicting the output of these AI systems. This job – while vital – often receives little recognition and comes with no benefits. “We are grunt workers,” says Savreux, “but there would be no AI language systems without it…You can design all the neural networks you want, you can get all the researchers involved you want, but without labelers, you have no ChatGPT.”

The field of AI typically celebrates the technological advances and the researchers who made them – while the input of contractors often goes unrecognized. Sonam Jindal, Program Lead for the Partnership on AI, has expressed concern regarding the situation. “A lot of the discourse around AI is very congratulatory. But we’re missing a big part of the story: that this is still hugely reliant on a large human workforce,” she said.

AI contractors are usually hired under written contracts by employers or third-party vendors that specialize in temporary employment or outsourcing. Unfortunately, this workforce is not provided with benefits like health insurance – making these long hours of labor also financially risky.

As a response to this exploitation, the Partnership on AI has called on companies like DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google, to provide their contract employees with fair pay and better working conditions. DeepMind was the only tech company that has publicly committed to these principles, but more still needs to be done.

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ChatGPT serves as a reminder of the unseen army that contributes immensely to the development of AI systems, despite the lack of recognition they often receive. It is absolutely essential to prioritize the well-being of these ‘invisible’ contractors and grant them with the much-deserved recognition and fair treatment they deserve.

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