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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Google cancels contract with an AI knowledge agency that’s helped practice Bard

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Google ended its contract with Appen, an Australian knowledge firm concerned in coaching its massive language mannequin AI instruments utilized in Bard, Search, and different merchandise, even because the competitors to develop generative AI instruments will increase. “Our determination to finish the contract was made as a part of our ongoing effort to judge and regulate lots of our provider partnerships throughout Alphabet to make sure our vendor operations are as environment friendly as attainable,” Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini mentioned in a press release despatched to The Verge

Appen notified the Australian Securities Trade in a filing, saying it “had no prior information of Google’s determination to terminate the contract.”

Human employees at firms like Appen typically deal with lots of the extra distasteful components of coaching AI and are sometimes the lower-paid, typically ignored backbone of the entire industry. At Appen, contractors assist fee knowledge high quality and solutions from AI fashions. Fast Company wrote final yr that some Appen staff who’re members of the Alphabet Employees Union had been petitioning Appen to extend wages from $10 an hour to $15. Whereas the union received wage will increase, the ultimate quantity fell wanting its objective. Many of those employees have been then laid off, with Appen citing enterprise circumstances. 

CNBC reported that Appen has additionally helped practice AI fashions for Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon. The corporate mentioned in its ASX submitting that its work with Google has had a big impression on its income. Appen’s income from Google alone within the fiscal yr 2023 amounted to $82.8 million. It made $273 million final yr. 

Mencini added that Google is working intently with Appen to make the transition “as easy as attainable.”

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Staff at one other Google contractor, Accenture, overwhelmingly voted to hitch the Alphabet Employees Union — which represents Google contractors — after refusing to deal with “obscene, graphic, and offensive prompts” for the then-unreleased Bard chatbot in November final yr.

And it isn’t simply a problem for Google. Content material moderators working in Kenya for data-labeling agency Sama sued the company and its client Meta for paying individuals $2.20 an hour to view disturbing photos and movies.

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