Prisoners are now cheap labour for startups

A startup has employed Finnish prisoners to perform tedious tasks created due to automation.


Finnish aritificial intelligence (AI) startup, Vainu, has taken on prisoners to perform the menial and tedious tasks that have emerged as a result of automation.

The Company has been employing resources from two prisons in Finland, to work on improving its Finnish natural language processing (NLP) capabilities.

The Company reportedly tried using Amazon Mechanical Turk to crowdsource labour for English NLP training, but it wasn’t working out to be practical economically. But now, after tying up with these prisons, it is able to afford labour at low cost, and has to only pay the government agency that is in charge of the prisons. However, the exact amount paid to the prisoners is not known.

Clearly, AI and technological advancement have only given rise to many boring and menial tasks, such as data labelling, which should have been actually done away with due to automation.

Another very monotonous job is that of safety drivers who are required to simply sit behind the wheel of self-driving cars. Content moderators also have a boring task of examining Facebook posts and YouTube videos and take care of inaccurate algorithms. Such kind of ‘ghost work’ as these mindless tasks have come to be called has little value since they are not visible. Instead of ensuring empowerment, AI may have actually given rise to a whole new kind of working class, that is certainly not enjoying the work assigned to it.

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