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Workers training AI demand protections from Congress

Workers training AI demand protections from Congress


The Senate’s second AI Insight Forum will take place Tuesday with guests like Marc Andreessen.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaking to reporters. Also pictured: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
Photo by Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Data workers urged lawmakers to protect their rights ahead of a Senate meeting with artificial intelligence leaders on Tuesday. 

In a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), workers and civil society groups demanded Congress guard against a “dystopian future” of surveillance and low wages for the people in charge of training AI algorithms.

“The contributions of data workers, often invisible to the public, are critical to advancements in AI,” the letter read. “Congress should develop a new generation of economic policies and labor rights related to prevent corporations like Amazon from leveraging tech-driven worker exploitation into profit and outcompeting rivals by taking the low road.”

The letter was sent ahead of Schumer’s second bipartisan AI Insight Forum. The forums are a series of meetings bringing together tech leaders like Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg with lawmakers as the Senate considers regulating AI. Over 20 guests were invited to Tuesday’s meeting, including tech investor Marc Andreessen and executives from companies like Stripe and Micron are expected to join the meeting. 

Some advocates are also expected to attend, including NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson and AFL-CIO Technology Institute director Amanda Ballantyne, according to CNBC

Turkopticon, a group supporting Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) workers, signed the Tuesday letter to Schumer. For years, businesses have hired MTurk workers, who often earn far below minimum wage, to help train these algorithms. Tuesday’s letter urged lawmakers to protect the rights of workers like those at MTurk to collective bargaining and to safeguard them from predatory surveillance and management systems. 

“Establishing robust protections related to workplace technology and rebalancing power between workers and employers could reorient the economy and tech innovation toward more equitable and sustainable outcomes,” the letter said.