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"Machines are not intelligent enough to teach yourself" how cheap labor in China teaches artificial intelligence
Material posted: Publication date: 25-03-2019
Serious work on the technology in China is not only Beijing and Shenzhen, but the former cement factory in the interior of the country, according to the author The New York Times. This building is the company that helps the AI understand the world. About twenty young employees view the various photos and videos, tagging almost everything you see: cars, traffic lights and so on.

The workers at these plants are paid little, says the NYT. In small cities there are startups that teach artificial intelligence to distinguish objects, working with many photos and videos from surveillance cameras. If you compare China with Saudi Arabia and to imagine that the main resource of China's data, these startups recycled raw materials and is getting fuel, which can then be used for the development of artificial intelligence.

Yunzhi Data Processing Company located on the former cement plant Yang Cong for The New York Times

The US and China are now competing in this field of technology. But according to The New York Times, China has several advantages.

  1. The government financially and politically supports companies engaged in the development of artificial intelligence.
  2. In 2017, Chinese startups took one third of the market of artificial intelligence, ahead of the United States.
  3. Chinese scholars often quote the scientific community. Moreover, in 2017 the government has announcedthat it plans to become a world leader in the field of artificial intelligence in 2030.

The main advantage of China is that the state and companies because of the weak data protection policy have access to a huge amount of information, writes the NYT. But information is useless if it does not perform and is not treated.

The ability to process data is probably is the true strength of China. "We are the builders in the digital world. Our job is to put one brick after the other," explains Iy, Aka, co-founder of a plant for labeling data in one of the cities in Central Henan province.

Artificial intelligence copes well with complex calculations, but lacks abilities possesses a normal five year old child. So artificial intelligence should be taught. Before he starts to understand that black and white cat is the same animal, he needs to handle a huge number of marked photos and videos. Here come to the aid of the data factory.

Marker helped the company AInnovation to establish the operation of the automatic cash register, created for the Chinese bakery chain stores. Buyers can choose a product, bring it to the scanner and pay without human help.

But almost 30% of cases the system could not distinguish a muffin from the donut due to lighting or movement of the buyer that affect the original image. Working with photos from the store, the marker could improve the recognition accuracy of products up to 99%.

Factory data appear far from the big cities, where the low price of labour and rent. Many employees of these factories in the past worked on Assembly lines or construction sites. According to the NYT, this work is getting smaller, wages are rising more slowly, and many Chinese prefer to work close to home.

Office Yunzhi Yang Cong for The New York Times

The book tells about the local resident S, ACE. He was unemployed, when one of his friends mentioned the marking data to artificial intelligence. He read about this area online and noticed that there need low-paid work, which in Henan abound. In March 2018, Aka with friends founded the company Ruijin Technology.

Aka not worry about what will remain unemployed because of artificial intelligence. "Machines are not intelligent enough to educate themselves," — he said. The problem is, where to find people. Some potential employees feel they know too little about artificial intelligence. Others think that this is boring.

In most cases, clients speak, what they call the data factory. But sometimes it is clear at once. For example, marking of traffic lights, road signs, pedestrians usually need for unmanned vehicles.

HOU Xiamen, which was discussed in the beginning of the article, founded on the former cement plant owned by one of the relatives of the husband. After graduation, HOU marked individuals in the company Megvii. Life in Beijing was too expensive, and she decided to return home to establish their own data factory.

HOU Xiamen, like Iy, Aka, not thinking about the consequences of their work. "Next to the camera I feel safe, says HOU Xiamen. — While the machine is subject to us."


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