As AI Destroys Search Results, Google Fires Workers in Charge of Improving It

Enshittification Amid a massive wave of tech company layoffs in favor of AI, Google is firing thousands of contractors tasked with making its namesake search engine work better. As Vice reports, news of the company ending its contract with Appen — a data training firm that employs thousands of poorly paid gig workers in developing countries to maintain, among other things, Google’s search algorithm — coincidentally comes a week after a new study found that the quality of its search engine’s results has indeed gotten much worse in recent years. Back in late 2022, journalist Cory Doctorow coined the term “enshittification” to refer to the demonstrable worsening of all manner of online tools, which he said was by design as tech giants seek to extract more and more money out of their user bases. Google Search was chief among the writer’s examples of the enshittification effect in a Wired article published last January, and as the new study out of Germany found, that effect can be measured. With CEOs’ short-sighted AI gold rush claiming ever more jobs, the termination of the Appen contract is particularly harsh not only because of how crappy Google Search has gotten, but also because of how crappy things were and are for people who work for the Australia-based AI training firm. Hunger Games In a shocking exposé published last October, Wired revealed that people who attempt to make ends meet by doing gig work for Appen often make as little as two cents per training task, often…As AI Destroys Search Results, Google Fires Workers in Charge of Improving It

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