Experts say there are about a lakh data labelling jobs posted on various portals currently (Pic: Indranil Das)
Mathi is one of the faceless workers helping companies in the US and Europe perfect their machine learning models. For instance, if you’re trying to get a driverless car to correctly identify a stop sign, you need to feed that algorithm thousands of images correctly labelled as stop signs. Sharmila Gupta of Gurgaon-based AI Touch likens data labelling to training a newborn. “Any AI model requires labelled data to get trained. This is like teaching a small child multiple times till they understand.” It’s a job that only humans can do and since it is quite labour intensive, it is being outsourced to countries with cheap labour like India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Kenya.
There is a new AI workforce, says Ajay Shah of HR company TeamLease Services. From an opportunity point of view, there are about a lakh jobs posted on various portals currently.
Playment, a crowd-sourced marketplace that trains annotators from scratch, where Hyderabad’s Mathi works, has 25,000 annotators between the age of 18 and 30 years working remotely across India, and its co-founder Siddharth Mall claims that anyone with a laptop and basic English skills can start working. “Everybody talks about how AI will make people lose their jobs, but there are also new kinds of jobs being created,” he says. These youngsters earn anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 a month.
Jitendra Kumar, 27, would agree. Six months ago, Kumar, who used to drive a four-wheeler for weddings and parties in his hometown Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, found a data labelling job with Gurgaon-based firm AI Touch. “Now, I get a salary on time, work in an office and can spend some time with my family as well,” says Kumar.