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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

Pelosi announces bid for re-election ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for re-election Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.

Scoop: Qatar emir to visit White House on Monday

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leaves the White House after meeting President Trump in 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss Afghanistan as well as contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Europe's reliance on Russia for 40% of its natural gas is undermining Biden's attempts to coordinate "massive" sanctions to be imposed from both sides of the Atlantic if Russia invades. The White House wants Qatar to help ensure European countries can enforce tough sanctions without risking an energy crisis.

Biden: There won't be "American forces moving into Ukraine"

President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that he does not foresee U.S. troops moving into Ukraine.

Why it matters: Biden's comments come as tensions between Russia and Ukraine persist, and a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears increasingly likely.