• schmorp
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    3 months ago

    I am a translator. Some decades ago the language industry introduced MT - some kind of precursor of LLM. The prices of translation jobs didn’t change, and translators didn’t lose their work entirely. But gradually we were offered more and more MTPE (euphemism for fixing the robot’s shit) jobs, for a lower rate. Many older colleagues stayed with the few remaining translation jobs, young people starting out became “MTPE editors”. These days there are a few translation jobs, many MTPE jobs, and more and more jobs in “AI output rating” - and the new generation will be working as an “AI linguistic assistant” or other such barbarity for even less money.

    The tech isn’t necessarily bad in itself, but what we have to wake up to is that tech is used to pay each generation after us a little less. We have to resist this and demand fair pay for fair work always - no matter if they want to call it ‘translation’, ‘AI output review’ or ‘ertdfg sfdgs’ - it has a price, and this price has to respect our dignity and enable a healthy life for us language workers and all other workers.

      • @[email protected]
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        53 months ago

        Yeah at that point they will likely push us into a situation where violence with capital is inevitable. I’m not super in agreement with Marx but he had some points here

      • schmorp
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        13 months ago

        The best part is, the MTPE workers’ output is 100% going to get fed back into the algorithms, so it’s only a matter of time before the average error rate of the models is good enough that there’s no real reason to pay anyone to look at it.

        Not quite, yes and no. It will be ever so slightly off, and the slightly off gets fed back, and language will change. It is already happening since CAT tools introduced segmentation - which means texts were segmented, and thus translated, at sentence level. Where a human translator in front of an unaltered text would have joined some sentences and separated others in the translated text, one tends to stick to the segmentation when working in a CAT tool, and MT- and CAT-translated German sounds almost, but not quite, like human German - remember that beverage machine making tea in the Hitchhiker’s Guide? Only we got used to drinking the stuff and reading the texts, what can we do.

        And now you have the added feature of MT flavoured translated texts. I for my part really enjoy handmade things these days, fuck AI. I thought AI generated images were funny at first, then understood the computation needs involved, the intellectual property stolen and put to work for corporations, the implications for many digital workers … it’s just more awful than fun honestly and should just fuck off back into the arseholes of the thieving scammers who invented it.

    • nicetriangle
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      3 months ago

      Yeah that’s pretty consistent with my expectations. A lot of work will transition into fixing the robots mistakes. So we’d be ceding the interesting, more creatively challenging aspects of our jobs to AIs and turning into data janitors. And that would only last as long as we’d be necessary. They’d hammer out the details making that janitor work eventually disappear.

      I do design and illustration and it’d kind of be like telling me “Well we don’t need you to illustrate this stuff anymore, but Midjourney still draws shitty hands with too many fingers. So your job now is to fix those hands.” That is not what I came here to do and that does not provide the fulfillment I seek from a line of work. And following that analogy, Midjourney will eventually make flawless hands and I’d be out of a job.

      Fortunately right now AI cannot hit a specific design/illustration brief to the consistent standards my projects require, nor iterate on a project based on specific and vague client feedback. So I still have work for now, but I see the writing on the wall. I’m always surprised other people don’t see that writing too.

      This whole thing is going to make an insane chasm of the wealth equality divide we already have.

        • nicetriangle
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          3 months ago

          Yeah for sure. Mostly indirectly. I know a few people in my line of work who lost jobs because the client decided to just use AI to generate something.

          I’ve also seen a number of examples of publications using AI images for editorial pieces which absolutely used to be paying jobs. For example this Atlantic article on Alex Jones. An actual person would have been paid to do a piece like this before AI came around.

          And also there was the San Francisco ballet that did a bunch of their Nutcracker promo campaign art with AI stuff last year. They had traditionally used artists and photographers for years to do key pieces for their promo materials.

          And as far as I am personally concerned, I’ve seen a marked slump in the volume of work inquiries I’ve been getting in the last year. I’ve been fortunate enough to remain fully booked and in the past just had to turn down a lot of work, but right now I’m getting about half as many inbound inquiries as I would have even a year ago. Hard to pin that on any one thing but I am sure AI is a factor. I’d be lying if I said that there haven’t been a number of my jobs over the years that couldn’t have been done with one of these AI models and a little trial and error.

          I’ve also had a few clients now send me Midjourney stuff and basically want me to replicate it but make it work for whatever thing it was they were needing artwork for. So right there, that’s all the fun problem solving and artistic exploration out the window and it’s basically a case of “fix the robot’s thing.” It’s pretty depressing.

          I’d be mostly fine with the robots doing away with all of our jobs if it meant we were heading into some post-work utopia where we got to just spend time doing the things that really matter to us, but that’s almost definitely not where this is going. All the windfalls will go to the top, the jobs will be less interesting, and wages will be depressed.

          • @[email protected]
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            23 months ago

            Your last paragraph really sums up my feelings on all of this. Work becoming easier and less needing to be done should be a good thing but we’re handling it terribly as a society

      • schmorp
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        33 months ago

        I am literally fixing punctuation all day that AI is too stupid to pick up. But it translates whole paragraphs most beautifully. I spend most of my working day in some state of dissociation, with an occasional laugh as I watch what I thought was civilization crumble before my eyes - as always, my work software wanted an update before starting a new project, and as ever more often, didn’t work after the update. Nobody gives a shit about quality anymore and I guess we’re all on drugs or suffer the consequences of long Covid, or both.

        • nicetriangle
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          33 months ago

          Yeah I feel like it must have really done a number on the field of translation. Also voice over work at the low to mid budget is probably done for with what those voice AI models can do now. It’s a sad state of affairs and it’s disheartening to see so many people cheer it on without caveats.

          • @[email protected]
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            23 months ago

            Tell me about it! I’m an audiobook narrator and I jumped on the AI bandwagon because my job as is, is bound to disappear. Now I can offer audiobooks narrated with my cloned voice for my clients with low budgets.

            Audible doesn’t accept ai narrated books as of yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

            Interestingly though, none of my clients went the AI road yet and still prefer to pay me rather than 3 times less for my AI voice. I bet that won’t last though.

            I’m also looking into completely changing field. How about healthcare, I’m sure they’ll never stop needing and/or abusing those in this field…

          • schmorp
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            13 months ago

            It’s of course heavily hyped. No matter that the AI they are hyping for translation now isn’t much different from the MT we are using since more than a decade.

            Btw I like the MT with reservations as it saves my hands from typing a lot. And I have been picky in choosing clients and negotiating my services, so I can’t complain personally. But I would like to help organize online language workers in some way, and make sure AI doesn’t fuck up quality even further, and demand reasonable rates. Especially for those poor folks in cheap translation mills (forgot their names). I also have heard of rates like 0.03€ doing translations for a (South) EU government, work for which usually a language degree is necessary, yet people accept these laughable shit rates.

      • schmorp
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        63 months ago

        We used to and still have translators’ associations, but most of them are stuck in the past. I was proving my skills as a translator by sitting at a desk and handwriting my translation while looking up stuff in physical dictionaries. They probably imagine that we are sitting in an office waiting for clients to walk in and hand us sheets of paper. It’s still like this for a few of us, but the vast majority works as typing monkeys part of huge international teams and churns out translations by the meter, and can’t afford neither the overpriced exam fees nor the inflated membership fees of organizations who do very little to support the positions of online translators.

        So yes, we need a union. But I think it should be international, and best include all digital workers. We are the burger flippers of the digital world and deserve a living wage.

        Now, as to AI, I would say the problem is that it’s wasteful computation-wise, and that’s why I’d rather not have it. I very much value reading texts by actual people, and look at images drawn by actual people and I am willing to pay for that. I want to use hand-knitted garments, hand-woven baskets and rugs, and not have sad people sit in factories 12 hours a day just so I can afford cheap plastic gadgets instead. So the other part of this would be to refuse consuming the cheap imitation of reality they offer after stealing everyone’s works. Go treat yourself to the best and most beautiful, done by someone with passion and love for their work. Don’t consume trash.

        The problem in the case of translators, other digital workers, and unions, however is not really about AI versus brain, machine versus hand. It’s about an economic system that forces us to work all day so we can survive. If you have to flip burgers, translate, dig potatos, play the violin 8 hours a day 5 days a week to survive, that’s too much. Stop. Demand better.

    • @[email protected]
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      53 months ago

      Yes, they are being paid less. Technology is supposed to free us from mundane tasks and make things cheaper. However, neither one of these occurs because of greed and poor management. So in reality if technology is paying us less, it should also be making things cheaper for us. There is clearly a discrepancy and we should demand for lower prices or higher wages, or both as a compromise. The compromise cannot be lower wages and higher prices, that is economically destructive and fuels greed and class wars.

    • GigglyBobble
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      -33 months ago

      fair pay for fair work

      Sure but what’s fair? As you described, the work did change considerably. Translating from scratch is much more work and also much harder than fixing a mostly ok output. It would not be fair to pay both jobs the same amount since the latter can be done by people with less expertise/education.

      Eventually, AI output won’t need any human editing at all. What then? Resisting change driven by technology is understandable from the individual perspective but it has always been doomed to fail. You know that “computer” used to be a job title?

      • @[email protected]
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        113 months ago

        If 10 farmers can make enough to feed 100 people, and new tech comes out that makes it possible for 5 farmers to make enough to feed 100 people, the ideal scenario is that now all 10 farmers should only have to work half as much. What usually ends up happening is that half the farmers are laid off so the boss at the top can pocket the extra money.

        This is how we end up with enough resources to feed, clothe and house everyone but still have people living in poverty. Because the system is no longer designed to provide for people, it’s meant to make profit for capitalists. It makes technological progress a negative instead of the positive of should be.

      • @[email protected]
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        93 months ago

        When our wealthy are legitimately discussing a trip to Mars, fair pay is about whatever the local McDonald’s charges for a double quarter pounder x5000, per year. After taxes.

        Don’t ask, but check for yourself!

        • schmorp
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          23 months ago

          Erm how much is than in sheep or potatos? I don’t do McDonald’s maths

          • @[email protected]
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            23 months ago

            Well, that depends on the sheep.

            Somewhere between like 50 and 500 sheep.

            About 125 short tons of potatoes.

      • Андрей Быдло
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        63 months ago

        It’s logical in a capitalistic sense. Yet it’s arguable if that’s how it’s supposed to be. With all these industrialization, automation, now LLMs, we end up working even more to survive. If not for unions, progressives counteracting it, it could be even worse. Isn’t it a regression instead of a progress? Why can’t they, at least, start to work less with the same pay so we all end up here somewhen? Isn’t that what everyone wants in the future?

        Why exactly correcting the text after an AI requires less experience? Main engineer isn’t paid less than his subordinates because they don’t plan every wall socket themselves, it’s an opposite, their experience and competence lets them lead the project and ensure it’s up to stantards. They put their personal responsibility for the work their team put together.

        I’m not a native English speaker and one of the reasons I started to learn it was because my local tranlations sucked ass. In the media, in books. Sometimes I could see the remains of a mistranslated english idiom that a human translator just didn’t recognize. And that’s just entertainment, and a bored person who dgaf. AI is just like that. It can’t care, it doesn’t dig into context, it doesn’t intentionally choose what to write, it can’t proofread itself. Imagine trusting more important cases like world diplomacy to someone who is just aproximately right, a workbook to someone who pick terminology at random and constantly changes it, a loveletter to an automated SEO optimizer. It can help you grasp the basics of what is said, that’s all.

        While professional translation is the Craft. And long before the first computer, different prominent authors competed with each other with their own translations of classic and well-known texts, these all got studied and compared ad nauseum, because it’s an open question how to do it better. Academics constantly argue if old names for things still fit them, they can start a feud over a slight difference in their definitions you can’t smell without 30 years in a field. And instead of mentioning the Bible that had exiles and bloodsheds started over these two, I’d put there our hated TikTok that makes billions of users by making their language of images so effective it’s intoxicating. Thus I insist that language fucking matters.

        And although in the beginning of my rant I stated I found many mistakes in translations, these helped me understand how much it takes to decode something right. How it’s easy to fail it. To appreciate how much effort and soul goes into that, even if it’s just correcting.

        Your dismissal of their value could be a good trolling tho, if only it was. But it seems your way of seeing that subject may be too popular in masses and obviously profitable to the moneymakers. So perceive that not as a personal reply, but just me letting a steam off for once.

      • schmorp
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        33 months ago

        Technological progress is okay if it is

        1. ecologically sustainable
        2. in the hands of the public, not a few corporations.

        And AI fails for both.

  • @[email protected]
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    203 months ago

    The conclusions about the EU job market don’t necessarily translate to the US, the researchers caution, noting that their results contrast with previous findings from American researchers.

    Research on the effect of AI on jobs in the US has indicated that generative AI could cause 2.4 million job losses by 2030. Large tech players like IBM have also cited AI as a reason to lay off thousands of people whose jobs could be replaced by software.

  • @[email protected]
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    33 months ago

    They will still work you for everything your worth, they’re just paying less for your labor.

  • @[email protected]
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    13 months ago

    ‘Thanks to labor-saving technology, you’ll work just as long for less money.’

    This is how every revolution and uprising happened.

  • Night Monkey
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    -453 months ago

    People whose jobs can be taken by AI need to learn a trade.

    • TimeSquirrel
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      3 months ago

      As someone who’s worked a trade for 20 years, please consider the incredible damage to your body it will do. I now have a torn rotator cuff and arthritis in my knees at 41. This is a warning.

      THAT is the shit that the robots are supposed to do. Not art and literature.

      • schmorp
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        -23 months ago

        Both you and @[email protected] have a point, and miss it by a bit. It’s not the point that a job that could be done by a robot is automatically useless, or that working in a trade is damaging.

        • Not the type of work does the damage, but the daily hours you do. Whoever said that every job must be done 8 or more hours a day? Can we call it a day at 12:30 if the work is heavy or damaging or monotonous? If I type 8 hours i suffer as much damage as a trade person working 8 hours, just in different parts of my body. Same for people who drive 8 hours or paint 8 hours every day.

        • If we got out of the mindset that a real job is something we have do at least 8 hours every day, we could do illustration, raising bonsai, writing novels in our free time. Without the pressure of survival in our necks. But we hand over most of our productivity to whoever owns ‘our’ corporations these days. There’s no need to do this anymore, we can get together and stop this.

      • Night Monkey
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        -93 months ago

        What shit is a robot supposed to do? Please explain, in detail

      • @[email protected]
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        -63 months ago

        Castration is an option, though it may not be as lucrative as you’ve been led to believe

        • @[email protected]
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          73 months ago

          I’ll cut off my balls, put them on a string, and throw it around like Spiderman to teabag people from a distance

      • @[email protected]
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        43 months ago

        Probably different jobs. We seem to always come up with more stuff to do than we get with productivity improvements. Also with population declines we are seeing impending continued labor shortages. And there’s a big need for tradespeople generally due to not enough people going into it for decades.

        I keep thinking eventually we’ll get to a post scarcity society a la Star Trek and either need a different economic system or we will continue to slide into dystopia and risk revolution, but that also seems further off as I see how slowly the various tech actually improves, mixed with plenty of issues making society unstable happening now. So we might well get dystopia before we lose “all” jobs to automation.

        It’s worth pointing out humanity has been worried about automation since at least the 1700s and yet even with all the tech advances we still have much higher average and median standards of living over that time.

        • @[email protected]
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          53 months ago

          We seem to always come up with more stuff to do than we get with productivity improvements

          That’s because in the past, obsolete jobs have tended to be replaced. From wagon makers and coachmen to auto workers and cab drivers. From ice block deliverymen to refrigerator repairmen. From literal shit shovelers to plumbers. You get the idea.

          This time is different though, for a few key reasons:

          1. The key selling point of the new way, other than convenience, is not having to pay people or indeed involve any of them unless absolutely necessary. NOT replacing lost jobs is part of the POINT.

          2. While the world has been on a trajectory of fewer and fewer people owning more and more of the world’s resources AND DECISION POWER for centuries, the last few decades of technological advances (which are of course a good thing when used well) coupled with regulatory capture have seen this trend explode like never before.

          The robber barons and feudal nobility of old that we tend to look at as the personification of uneven and unjust societies would be absolutely aghast at the excesses and callousness if today’s business leaders and the politicians that enable them.

          In other words, the people with the power to replace the lost income are incentivised not to like never before and many of them got where they are because they didn’t need any incentives to act callous and selfishly while forever striving for more more more and not giving a fuck about anyone who might get in the way of that.

          1. As others have pointed out, the only potential replacement jobs are basically just correcting errors the AI made, for which nobody’s paying anyone anywhere near as much as for actually creating things.

          2. Thanks to the previously mentioned regulatory capture as well as international treaties on which workers rarely have a say, it’s increasingly becoming illegal, even for sovereign countries, to hinder the profiteering of corporations for any reason, even the preservation of human lives.

          So good luck securing dignity for the people economically displaced by the hot new thing that few of the elite understand, but almost all of them prefer over paying workers.

          The time where everybody needs to work in order to survive but almost nobody is able to GET any work is approaching, and replacing writers and visual artists with lines of code will be a huge leap towards that dystopia if we don’t somehow band together and stop it.

          • @[email protected]
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            03 months ago

            I just think I have heard this before, that this time is different. I am sure if you look back each major disruption had “this time is different”. And from what I’ve read, at no time did the robber barons of the age want to replace jobs, new jobs just happened.

            • @[email protected]
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              23 months ago

              at no time did the robber barons of the age want to replace jobs

              That’s actually not true. As greedy and callous as they were, their fortunes were absolutely dependent on human labor and their wealth was limited by how much gold and money existed/could be minted and printed.

              Today, though, the vast majority of wealth doesn’t exist physically and human labor being replaced with AI makes billionaire wealth independent of labor, which is what they love about it.

              With it rendering human input unnecessary and most wealth already being intangible and increasingly independent on actually working for a living, AI replacing human workers doesn’t create any necessity or other incentive for employers to hire people for something new.

              Only new opportunities would be for cleaning up code and correcting language errors, neither of which fits the proclivities and abilities of the creative people AI replaces. Any “new” jobs would be for programmers already doing similar tasks and already in short supply.

              • @[email protected]
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                13 months ago

                Wait. You think the industrial revolution fit the ex farmers proclivities and existing abilities? Factory shift work is pretty different from self owned farms.

                You think the mass produced furniture factories owners worried about the local craftsmen they were replacing or that those craftsmen loved the idea of going to work in a factory?

                You think that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were wringing their hands in the early 90s as they basically replaced secretaries?

                I have only ever heard of one famous industrialist care about the money his workers made in relationship to paying them, and that was Henry Ford. I’m pretty sure he was an outlier and hence why he was remembered. Atlas Shrugged was written what? 70 years ago with the idea that rich people could go off and not need anyone else… This isn’t a new idea or desire, but yet we do keep coming up with different stuff to do.

                I think you’re underestimating how large the productivity gains over the last 150 or so years have been, mixed with how much the costs to get access to the tools have fallen. Doing laundry used to cost a person hours of hand work near a river, now you can go rent time in a laundrymat for like $6 a wash and dry load. Having this discussion would have cost days of either travel to meet up, or several letters back and forth and time. It’s basically free and instant now. Most people were farmers because paying for food was incredibly expensive when most farming was substinance productivity. Now we have an epidemic of too much food availability.

                I think it’s as likely that more people having access to cheap AI tools will just let them do more and different things, and “controlling it with pricing” forgets international competition.

                I am thinking of things like the laser cutters. For Idk, 7 years or so the main consumer one was the glowforge, for like 3500 dollars. Now you can get one from a bunch of Chinese vendors for 1000. Lesser ones are 250. It’s more and more accessible, and I just think this will happen with AI tools too, as long as you’re not hung up one one brand.

    • @[email protected]
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      113 months ago

      People whose jobs can be taken by AI means every human. ALL OF US. It’s just a question of how soon. Some jobs will still need humans for several decades, others will not.

      What we all collectively need to do is acknowledge that we are winning. This is the endgame of civilization, and our victory condition is 100% unemployment, because no one should be required to work.

      But we need to acknowledge that tying a person’s means of living to a ‘productive job’ is no longer viable, and people need to live even without doing something ‘productive’.

    • R0cket_M00se
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      103 months ago

      “learn to code!”

      AI takes coding jobs

      “Learn how to be a plumber!”

        • R0cket_M00se
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          63 months ago

          No, it’s been the catch all phrase used by people trying to avoid the inevitability of a fully automated economy that we need to begin preparing solutions for. It’s likely 100 years off but it’ll be a slow trickle of robotics and niche AI models slowly reducing the work that can be done by humans.

          Yeah sure in the first fifty years a lot of jobs will be created for maintenance and repair of these machines and their VI’s, but eventually troubleshooting and maintenance can be done by machines as well.

          Then what? What do we do when the population is in the billions and workable jobs are in the hundreds of thousands? Capitalism doesn’t have a solution for that, only a UBI of some kind will suffice.

          Either that or most will starve while four or five families own trillions of dollars of economic production.

          • Night Monkey
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            -83 months ago

            Man that sounds pretty dystopian. Is everybody on this platform a Debbie downer?

    • Avid Amoeba
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      13 months ago

      And what would happen to trades wages if everyone and their mother switches to trades?