In the Coming Automated Economy, People Will Work for AI


Illustration of the letters AI with people and data points behind it.
Illustration: Alamy

In Texas, a company called Alegion is helping disabled veterans take part in the new digital economy. The vets’ job: preparing data so that an artificial intelligence (AI) system can learn from it.

“There’s a whole new industry sprouting on the shoulders of AI,” says Alegion CEO Nathaniel Gates in an interview with IEEE Spectrum. “We are employing people.”

When people talk about AI, they’re often referring to software that gets very good at a particular task via a technique called deep learning. With this method, AI systems are given vast amounts of labeled data, and as they run through it, they learn to draw conclusions. For example, an AI tasked with classifying photos of animals would look at millions of images labeled cat, dog, hedgehog, and so forth, and would learn on its own which features define each animal.

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