PRESS RELEASE: Turkopticon and The Distributed AI Research (DAIR) Institute Applaud Congressional Letter Holding Big Tech Accountable for Data Worker Abuse

Krystal Kauffman, Dr. Alex Hanna

Turkopticon and the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR) applaud the Congressional announcement of a letter by Sen. Markey (D-Mass) and Rep. Jayapal (WA-07) which demands that Amazon, Google, OpenAI, and other tech giants answer questions about the working conditions of data workers, especially those involved in training and moderating generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The letter, citing important research from Turkopticon and DAIR, outlines how data workers are subject to low wages with no benefits, constant surveillance, arbitrary mass rejections and wage theft, and working conditions which contribute to psychological distress. Other signatories to the letter include Sen. Wyden (D-Ore), Sen. Warren (D-Mass), Sen. Sanders (I-Ver), Rep. Bowman (NY-16), Rep. Porter (CA-47), and Rep. Pocan (WI-02).

“Turkopticon considers this to be a step forward in the fight against unfair practices leveraged by companies like Amazon, Google, and OpenAI in their shadow workforce,” said Krystal Kauffman, lead organizer with Turkopticon. “These tech giants engage in shady labor practices which hurt workers through low pay and a lack of accountability. Turkopticon has been fighting Amazon on one such strategy – called mass rejections – in which employers reject all task submissions, keep the data, but do not pay the workers. Amazon has not wanted to work with us on a solution to this problem, but we are excited to see that members of Congress are standing up for these workers.”

“Generative AI systems like ChatGPT and other large language models would not work if it wasn’t for massive human intervention, performed by data workers in the United States and across the world,” said Alex Hanna, Director of Research for DAIR. “We need accountability for big tech firms who like to pretend their new tools operate through engineering magic, rather than large-scale dispossession of labor.”

The lawmakers demand that the nine companies respond directly to their questions by October 11, 2023. We eagerly await their response.

For press inquiries, please contact:

Krystal Kauffman, Lead Organizer, Turkopticon; Research Fellow, DAIR ([email protected])

Alex Hanna, Director of Research, DAIR ([email protected])