Research Seminar

Behind the AI Curtain: The Invisible Workers Powering AI Development

A seminar unveiling the unseen human labour and ethical challenges in AI development, emphasizing the role of invisible workers and advocating for equitable and ethical practices through ILO's guidance.

This seminar is dedicated to unveiling the hidden layers in the development of AI, shedding light on the human labour and ethical considerations that often remain unnoticed amidst the backdrop of technological progress.

In this seminar, we'll explore the deceptive nature of AI's expansion, and highlight the vital role played by invisible workers, particularly in developing countries. These workers are crucial for AI development and are part of the AI supply chain, which operates globally. They contribute significantly under challenging and precarious working conditions, yet their narratives as well as their rights are often overlooked in the global discourse on AI.

The seminar aims to critically examine the relentless pursuit of AI innovation, shedding light on how it may overshadow the crucial need for fair labour practices and development policies that promote more equitable labour market outcomes, especially for developing countries. Beyond the impact of AI, the seminar also places these discussions within the broader development agenda and the limitations of these technologies in driving structural transformation, which is inclusive and leads to the creation of decent and productive employment.

The seminar goes beyond presenting research and insights; it serves as a call to action for policymakers, technologists, and labour advocates to address these urgent challenges and fostering a collective commitment to ethical and equitable AI development. The rapid acceleration of AI development poses a significant risk of deepening existing inequalities, particularly in developing countries, wherein invisible workers often bear the brunt of precarious labour conditions without adequate recognition or protection, exacerbating economic and social disparities on a global scale.

How can the ILO, with its unique position and expertise in labour rights, lead in advocating for better policies, practices, and international cooperation to ensure that AI development does not compromise ethical standards or exploit workers.

  • Sher Verick, Head, Employment Strategies Unit, ILO EMPLOYMENT
  • Uma Rani, Senior Economist, ILO RESEARCH
  • Rishabh Kumar Dhir, Research Officer, ILO RESEARCH