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A driverless car's view of the road. Photo: David McNew/Getty

Once crowdsourced for pennies on platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk, labeling data for AI is swiftly becoming a hugely lucrative market — with much of the work done in places with cheap labor like China, India and Malaysia.

Why it matters: It's a necessary step for algorithms that learn from enormous troves of examples. A system that's seen a million cat photos, hand labeled as such, will be able to identify the million-and-first.

Details: The global market for AI data labeling is predicted to explode from $150 million in 2018 to more than $1 billion by the end of 2023, according to research company Cognilytica.

  • It's tedious work: Imagine spending all day at a screen just highlighting stop signs in images taken by autonomous vehicles.
  • Workers abroad who label data for Alegion, a Texas-based crowdsourcing platform, earn between $3 and $6 an hour, Alegion CEO Nathaniel Gates told IEEE Spectrum.
  • But it's pitched as an economic boost for rural areas, because the work can employ large numbers of people without much formal education.
  • For a driverless car, "one hour of video data can lead up to 800 man-hours of work,” Siddharth Mall, co-founder of data-labeling outfit Playment, told India's Factor Daily.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 seconds ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of AT&T's split with WarnerMedia

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

AT&T is unwinding a huge part of its $84 billion acquisition of Time Warner, less than three years after it closed.

Driving the news: AT&T this morning announced that it will merge its WarnerMedia properties with Discovery Inc.'s media assets.

Supreme Court agrees to hear major Mississippi abortion case

Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Why it matters: It will be the first abortion case to be argued before the Supreme Court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed, potentially providing a pathway to challenging Roe v. Wade and allowing outright bans on abortion.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

1 hour ago - World

Blinken says he hasn't seen evidence Hamas was in AP building Israel struck

Smoke rises after sraeli forces destroyed building in Gaza City where Al-Jazeera and Associated Press had their offices. Photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he had not personally seen evidence that Hamas was operating in a building that housed offices for Al Jazeera, the AP and other media in the Gaza Strip, as the Israeli government has claimed, AP reports.

The latest: "The Secretary was referring only to what he personally had seen. As he made clear, any such information would be provided to others in the administration, not directly to the secretary of State," a senior State Department official told Axios.