As the world’s biggest companies continue to invest heavily in AI technology, moderators are needed to oversee the content being served by AI-powered software. A large share of this content moderation is outsourced to third-party companies, many of which are underpaid. Now, African AI moderators for platforms like ChatGPT, Facebook, and TikTok have voted to unionize in a surprising move.
150 African AI workers voted to unionize in Nairobi this week, as reported by Time. These workers perform AI moderation for companies like ByteDance (TikTok), Meta (Facebook), and OpenAI (ChatGPT). With the formation of this union, the group is hoping to secure better minimum wages. According to the report, some of the moderators are paid as little as $1.50 an hour.
As moderators for cutting-edge AI software, the workers are exposed to a lot of morbid and unpleasant content, with some of them suffering from PTSD as a result of their work. The forming of this union could have major implications for the future of AI moderation. The path to get here began back in 2019 when Daniel Motaung was fired by Sama, a third-party company doing moderation for Facebook, for trying to form a union. Motaung was on stage speaking at the meeting in Nairobi this week. According to Time, he’s also suing Sama and Facebook.
With the vote to form a union officially passing, we’ll be watching to see how Meta, ByteDance, and OpenAI respond. We here at Shacknews have been paying close attention to the growth of artificial intelligence and will continue to report on the most significant stories.