AWESOME Exploitation: Crowdsourcing the Developing World

Having documented ad nauseum that 85% of the computers sold to Africa are reused and repaired, and documenting that the 3B3K market (3 billion people earning $3k per year) has added internet access at 10 times the rate of growth of the "developed world", how do we create employment without outsourcing a job?

We outsource work done by an overheated machine.... IBM's Big Blue, perhaps.  It's "immaculate exploitation", no jobs exported, no toxics, creating jobs out of code.

This AWESOME article from MIT Press (found on /.), Human Workers Managed by an Algorithm, explains how human interaction is more efficient for certain mega-computing processes.

Supercomputing is actually more efficient if some of the algorithms are done "by hand".  The programs have to check off boxes which are obvious... humans can do it instinctively, and crowd-sourcing limits or eliminates subjective bias.   The problem is you just cannot afford to do it in Silicon Valley, your maximum return is $4 per hour.
By assigning such tasks to people in emerging economies, MobileWorks hopes to get good work for low prices. It uses software to closely control the process, increasing accuracy by having multiple workers perform every task. According to company cofounder Anand Kulkarni, the aim is to get the crowd of workers to "behave much more like an automatic resource than like individual and unreliable human beings." 
Four bucks per hour is great for MOST people in the world.  Awesome, in fact.   And they are not taking jobs away from  Big Blue, they just give the megacomputers more "leisure time" (if you are stuck in the thinking of Marx, Hegel and John Stuart Mill).

The bad news? Oh gee, people in "Developing Nations" earning less than minimum wage, there's gotta be a downside. Quick, let's send a reporter to photograph the dirty clothes their children wear, the mud huts, trash being burned at the Accra or Lagos landfill.  Because these jobs are available to people who can only afford a $20 used CRT monitor.   Yes... there's a photo of a burning computer monitor that needs to go into the article somewhere, or a "witches brew" of bad capacitors associated with the good enough market.


The Anti-Globalists are in fact already pouncing (see majority of comments on /.)

This creates work for used CRTs (embodied costs which are trapped in non-use) and work for unemployed people.  Makes too much sense...

There's no downside I can think of, no transboundary movement, no waste or carbon, to giving unemployed Africans algorithm work.   The computer hardware they use might supply the controversy Anti-globalists hunger for.   The cost of the CRTs, even at $20, is eaten up by transport, red tape, risks of seizures (if every 5th load is confiscated by customs, the entire $20 is gone).  There is a market for CRTs, but you have to practically give them away.  And that makes it harder to ensure that junk along for the ride won't increase as a result.   If you have a Fair Trade Recycling demanufacturing operation at the other end, it's less of a worry... so the free market could work after all.  But it really works best when California and other governments which create economic prohibition on exports allow the buyers to have greater numbers of suppliers and to be less picky and to pay less.  We could call it the "California Compromise", and send a load of computers from Silicon Valley directly to the market where the crowd-source jobs at $4 per hour would be side by side with Fair Trade Recycling jobs dismantling the 15% that aren't repaired or the older TVs taken back from the slums.

As I continue to monitor this story on, the number of angry comments from Anti-Globalization zealots continue to rise.   Here is just one of several:
Kill this concept with fire and nuke it from orbit, TYVM. The last thing this economy needs is to siphon more work while we have people who cannot find replacement work fast enough to justify this kind of stuff.
The only logic in this algorithm is that US citizens are considered persona non grata unless they want to forgo the 13th Amendment in the name of economics - much like the various programs that precede it. Given the other companies out there, this is an already solved problem for the Third World. What they fail to do is to solve it for the First World.
This concept, that any job which can't be done for $8 per hour in a country with 10% unemployment, must be done by a computer rather than a geek of color in a developing country, or USA suffers, is completely stupid.   The job in the emerging market is outsourcing supercomputing algorithms.  There's no physical transfer of harm, no transfer of a job anyone in the USA would accept, and there's already a machine doing the work at $5 per hour.

This is a microcosm of the economic transfer of Fair Trade Recycling, but without any physical "toxic" e-waste harm associated (unless you think creating a job in Africa increases the number of working devices imported, and future pollution from those future e-waste devices).  And most of the comments are against it. They don't want migrants to pick apples or milk cows because it takes a job away from an unemployed auto factory worker... but they don't see that the exports of autos to Africa increase if the computing jobs increase there.   They mistake a job for Cairo or Lagos (with 50% unemployment) as a loss to a state like Vermont with 5.5% unemployment.

My response on slashdot to the comment above was basically that I wished he worked for me so I could fire him and outsource his job to a gal in Africa with both a brain and a heart.   But that's my passion getting the best of me again.

Anti-Globalists and Anti-Immigration people are not liberal nor conservative.  They are angry little people who make business investors (conservatives) and anti-racists (liberals) cringe.   We realize why our two-party system forces our representatives - from either party - to espouse idiot views because without the idiot vote the elections are too close.   Three hundred years ago, they'd be burning witches or prosecuting beautiful agony.  

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