Would be hard to summarize this in-depth article/expose from NYT, but…
A.I. Is Learning From Humans. Many Humans.
Artificial intelligence is being taught by thousands of office workers around the world. It is not exactly futuristic work.
A.I., most people in the tech industry would tell you, is the future of their industry, and it is improving fast thanks to something called machine learning. But tech executives rarely discuss the labor-intensive process that goes into its creation. A.I. is learning from humans. Lots and lots of humans.
Tech companies keep quiet about this work. And they face growing concerns from privacy activists over the large amounts of personal data they are storing and sharing with outside businesses.
Tens of thousands more workers, independent contractors usually working in their homes, also annotate data through crowdsourcing services like Amazon Mechanical Turk, which lets anyone distribute digital tasks to independent workers in the United States and other countries. The workers earn a few pennies for each label.
Based in India, iMerit labels data for many of the biggest names in the technology and automobile industries. It declined to name these clients publicly, citing confidentiality agreements. But it recently revealed that its more than 2,000 workers in nine offices around the world are contributing to an online data-labeling service from Amazon called SageMaker Ground Truth. Previously, it listed Microsoft as a client.
One day, who knows when, artificial intelligence could hollow out the job market. But for now, it is generating relatively low-paying jobs. The market for data labeling passed $500 million in 2018 and it will reach $1.2 billion by 2023, according to the research firm Cognilytica. This kind of work, the study showed, accounted for 80 percent of the time spent building A.I. technology.
This work can be so upsetting to workers, iMerit tries to limit how much of it they see. Pornography and violence are mixed with more innocuous images, and those labeling the grisly images are sequestered in separate rooms to shield other workers, said Liz O’Sullivan, who oversaw data annotation at an A.I. start-up called Clarifai and has worked closely with iMerit on such projects.“I would not be surprised if this causes post-traumatic stress disorder — or worse. It is hard to find a company that is not ethically deplorable that will take this on,” she said. “You have to pad the porn and violence with other work, so the workers don’t have to look at porn, porn, porn, beheading, beheading, beheading
In China and India combined, men outnumber women by 70 million, mainly due to a couple reasons: cultural preference, government policy and modern medical technology.
And the consequences are severe, including:
Epidemic of loneliness, mental health
Imbalanced labor market
Increased savings rates
Artificial inflation (housing)
Increased crime rate (trafficking, prostitution)
In China alone, there are about 34 million more men than women, that’s almost the entire population of California or Poland. It is common for men to pay “bride price” to prospective parents-in-law to gain approval of engagement and marriage. Due to the gender imbalance, the price has gone from a few hundred dollars a decade a go to nearly $30K in some parts of China.
Some others start to “import” brides from near by Asian countries, paying up to $8K for marriage tours to travel abroad and find wives.
Why it’s hot: Potentially, these 70 million men might never get married or have a family, and might need to live and take care of themselves. Brands (CPG, Healthcare) should think about the implications and impacts it has on them.
A combination of India’s lack of digital payment adoption and shop owners never having enough change to give back to customers after a purchase has resulted in a very unique cultural practice: giving candy as change to consumers, instead of coins. Though it may sound sweet (eh? eh?), this leaves customers feeling scammed and shop owners feeling annoyed.
Taking note of this mutual pain point Paytm, a digital payment app, created its own brand of candy. These could still be given as change to consumers, but with a twist – the candy wrappers could be redeemed as real money with the download of their app by inputting the promo codes on the inside of the candy wrappers.
Though Paytm didn’t monetize (the candies were given to shop owners for free) they massively reduced their acquisition costs from $ 0.92 to $.18) with over 1M people downloading their app.
Why It’s Hot:
The campaign stemmed from a real culture insight/pain point and the brand sat in the middle of the solution
Really smart way of turning an everyday object into a medium (the wrappers)
Leveraged an old behavior (cash economy) to transition people to a new one (digital payment)
The service works just like hailing any other kind of Uber vehicle (it’s much like the rickshaw service Ola runs too). Users open the app, select UberAuto from the options, and wait for a driver to confirm. Customers can hail autos even when there is no credit in their Paytm wallet — the payments service that Uber integrated in India — since the focus is on cash.
“When it comes to getting around Delhi, auto-rickshaws are a staple. We recognise the history and value of autos to the transportation landscape. For us, uberAUTO is another way of using technology to offer more choice, making life simpler and keep Delhi moving,” Uber said in a blog post.
This service is an interesting addition for a couple of reasons. Auto rickshaws are an important layer of the transportation ecosystem in India cities. Getting auto rickshaws on the Uber platform is a big win because it increases the reach and appeal of Uber’s service, encouraging more consumers to download its app.
Of course, once a new user has the app, there’s the possibility that they might, in time, ride with other types of Uber vehicles — which return higher margins for the company than a rickshaw. Additionally, cash-only fares will help extend Uber’s appeal to new demographics. From there, again, there’s the possibility that these new customers will, over time, use Uber’s more premium services.
Following on from Socar, Korea’s answer to Zipcar, which raised $18 million earlier this month, another car rental startup in Asia is in the money today. India-based Zoomcar has added $8 million to its coffers with a funding round led by Sequoia Capital.
The 18-month-old Bangalore-based company isn’t your average Indian startup. It is founded by two US expats — Chris Back and Greg Moran — and counts Lawrence Summers — an ex-U.S. Treasury Secretary and the former President of Harvard University — among its investors.
Sequoia aside, other investors involved in this new round include ex-Infosys CFO Mohandas Pai, Manipal Group’s Abhay Jain, and existing stakeholders Empire Angels, FundersClub, and Basset Investment Group. Prior to today, the startup had raised $3 million in funding.
Zoomcar is billed as a “self-drive” car rental company. That might sound odd to Western ears, but it goes against the grain in India (and other parts of Asia), where Back says that over 95% over the industry deals in chauffeur-driven rentals. The startup currently has a fleet of 450 vehicles (including electric cars) which cover Bangalore and Pune and can be booked via its website or smartphone apps.
Why It’s Hot
India is always on the radar as a market for top consideration, and we can now see some common business models and ideas becoming more successful and adopted there. This may give insight to the mindset of the consumers there and can lead to thoughts about how we can take advantage of the opportunity.