ChatGPT trainers want Parliament to probe exposure to harmful content
Kenyan employees who were contracted to train ChatGPT’s algorithm are now calling on the National Assembly to investigate OpenAI in relation to the harmful content it exposed outsourced workers to including rape, bestialities, necrophilia, sexual violence against children, murder and suicides among other harmful content.
Richard Mwaura, Mophat Okinyi, Alex Mwaura and Bill Mulinya were among the petitioners who called on Parliament to look into the conditions of service of young Kenyans who work for foreign big tech companies that outsource employees through Kenyan companies. In this instance, OpenAI outsourced workers through Samasource Kenya EPZ Limited who gave them temporary contracts.
The petitioners were contracted to clean up ChatGPT but say they were not informed of the nature of the work. It turned out, the work involved reading and viewing the above mentioned harmful content and categorizing it accordingly so that ChatGPT’s artificial intelligence could learn it for purposes of its future interactions with people.
“Throughout the contract of training ChatGPT, we were not afforded psychosocial support. Due to the exposure of this kind of work, we have developed severe mental illnesses inclusing post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, insomnia and sexual dysfunction to name a few,” the petitioners said.
They also revealed that the contract between OpenAI and Samasource was terminated and they were let go without receiving all their dues. They also complained of poor pay for outsourced workers who are working for foreign fortune 500 companies who are globally successful.
“The outsourcing model has proven to be harmful for tech workers as the outsourced workers are treated poorly and not afforded the same protection as full-time employees. They are engaged and cast aside at will while simultaneously being required to carry out very harmful work at poor pay. Efforts to have the matter addressed by the concerned parties have not borne fruit,” the petitioners further said.
The petitioners have also called on Parliament to investigate the conditions outsourced Kenyan workers are being subjected to by big tech companies looking for content moderators and other artificial intelligence work.
“We also pray that Parliament interrogates the role of the Ministry of Labor in the protection or otherwise of Kenyan youth who were working for Sama and other companies, on behalf of technological companies based outside Kenya. We also pray Parliament makes recommendations to bring to an end any further exploitation of Kenyan youth and make proposals for the withdrawal of licenses of companies that contribute to the exploitation of Kenyan youth,” said the petitioners.
The petitioners also wanted legislation enacted to regulate the outsourcing of harmful technological work and protection workers engaged through outsourcing arrangements, amend the Employment Act 2007 to offer protection to outsourced workers, ament the Occupational Health Act to include exposure to harmful content as an occupational hazard and make appropriate recommendations to address their petition.
They are yet to go to court to sue Samasource and OpenAI.
ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence system, is one of the most popular AI in the world. It is a product of the OpenAI company and is used by over 100 million users globally.