Biden Faces Pressure from African Workers Over Harsh AI Labor Conditions 

 May 27, 2024

By  Joe Habscheid

Summary: African workers, particularly from Kenya, who are involved in labeling AI data and screening social media posts for major US tech companies, are appealing to President Biden. They want him to address their grievances with Kenya’s President William Ruto during his US visit. These workers allege systemic abuse and exploitation by companies like Meta, OpenAI, and Scale AI.

African Workers Seek Intervention from President Biden

African workers, mainly from Kenya, have taken a bold step by writing an open letter to President Biden. They are urging him to discuss their harsh working conditions with Kenya’s President William Ruto during his upcoming US visit. The letter, signed by 97 workers, highlights the severe exploitations faced by Africans working for US tech giants, including Meta, OpenAI, and Scale AI.

Disturbing Content and Poor Working Conditions

The letter paints a grim picture of the daily lives of these workers. It describes how their typical workday involves monitoring and moderating highly disturbing content, ranging from murder and beheadings to child abuse, rape, pornography, and bestiality. This distressing task often extends over eight hours a day.

Despite the severity of their work, these workers are paid less than $2 per hour, leading to severe mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This issue is not isolated but a well-documented problem among content moderators globally.

The Role of the African Content Moderators Union

The petitioners, members of the African Content Moderators Union, outline their responsibilities. These include reviewing content on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, labeling images, and training chatbot responses for AI technology development companies such as OpenAI. The letter reveals a sudden and severe action taken by Scale AI in March, where workers based in Kenya, Nigeria, and Pakistan were abruptly banned from the Remotasks platform. This left many without income and amid unresolved unpaid wages.

Contradictions with Biden Administration’s Labor Policies

The letter’s signatories argue that despite President Biden’s supposed “worker-centered” approach to labor policies, their plight has been overlooked. They feel discarded and plead for the president to ensure that US tech companies adhere to local laws, engage respectfully with overseas workers, and cease union-busting practices. They also call for US courts to hold these companies accountable for their actions abroad, especially concerning human rights and labor violations.

Meta’s Legal Troubles and the Fight for Better Working Conditions

The call for help comes just over a year after the formation of the African Content Moderators Union, which triggered a harsh response from Meta. The tech giant terminated nearly 300 Kenya-based content moderators, obstructing the union’s progress. Currently, Meta is facing three lawsuits from over 180 Kenyan workers. The lawsuits demand humane working conditions, the right to organize freely, and payment of overdue wages.

A Call for Dignified Work

While these workers acknowledge the importance of job creation in Kenya, they emphasize the need for dignified, fairly compensated, and safe work environments. They clarify that they do not oppose employment opportunities but seek to ensure these jobs honor their labor rights and provide security and fairness. They insist on “dignified, fairly paid work that is safe and secure.”

In addressing this issue, it is crucial to consider the ethical responsibilities of tech giants and their impact on global labor markets. Fair treatment and compliance with labor laws not only benefit workers but also enhance the credibility and operation of international companies.

#LaborRights #TechIndustry #ContentModeration #HumanRights #FairWages #MentalHealthAwareness #Kenya

More Info — Click Here

Featured Image courtesy of Unsplash and Ales Nesetril (Im7lZjxeLhg)

Joe Habscheid

Joe Habscheid is the founder of midmichiganai.com. A trilingual speaker fluent in Luxemburgese, German, and English, he grew up in Germany near Luxembourg. After obtaining a Master's in Physics in Germany, he moved to the U.S. and built a successful electronics manufacturing office. With an MBA and over 20 years of expertise transforming several small businesses into multi-seven-figure successes, Joe believes in using time wisely. His approach to consulting helps clients increase revenue and execute growth strategies. Joe's writings offer valuable insights into AI, marketing, politics, and general interests.

Interested in the Power of AI ?

Join The Online Community Of Mid-Michigan Business Owners Embracing Artificial Intelligence. In The Future, AI Won't Replace Humans, But Those Who Know How To Leverage AI Will Undoubtedly Surpass Those Who Don't.