Digital Sweatshops


A recent article in the Washington Post reports in a recent article that the Philippines has become one of the world’s largest destinations for outsourced digital work, with at least 10,000 people working for Remotasks, which is owned by the $7 billion San Francisco start-up Scale AI.

Scale AI has paid workers at extremely low rates, routinely delayed or withheld payments and provided few channels for workers to seek recourse, according to interviews with workers, internal company messages and payment records, and financial statements. Rights groups and labor researchers say Scale AI is among a number of American AI companies that have not abided by basic labor standards for their workers abroad.

– The Washington Post

For the article, the Post reports that it interviewed 36 current and former employees. The workers, known as “taskers” by Sace AI, told the Post that “they often earn far below the minimum wage — which in the Philippines ranges from $6 to $10 a day depending on region — though at times they do make more than the minimum”.

Quoting from OpenAI’s website, the Post write that the Scale AI, which does work for firms like Meta, Microsoft and generative AI companies like Open AI, pays “rates at a living wage”. Anna Franko, a Scale AI spokesperson, told the Post that the pay system on Remotasks “is continually improving based on worker feedback and that delays or interruptions to payments are exceedingly rare.”

Dominic Ligot, a Filipino AI ethicist, called these new workplaces “digital sweatshops”, the Post reports.