Seed Investments in Insurrection


A few months ago, I got a pitch from a company providing a kind of “last mile” for computer vision—an always-on human network that would take images that computers couldn’t identify, and spit back whether or not a roof tile was broken or if a signature matched.

I asked questions about how much money per hour these workers would be making—and the founder gave me some line about how they’re not paid per hour, but by task. Obviously, he knew how long the workers would be sitting there, how many images they’d be expected to look at, and he could do the simple arithmetic to calculate an hourly rate. I called him on it and pressed until I got an answer.

“Ten dollars an hour.”

“So what happens if the Democrats take back Congress and we get to a national $15/hour minimum wage?”

“On second thought—forget about the political strategy around it. How about—do you think that’s a livable wage in this country? That’s less than $20,000 per year.”

He didn’t quite have an answer to the morality of it, but that he’d said they’d have to recalculate the financial part. He was certain he had the margin to cover it. Maybe one day he’d get around to thinking about what it meant to pay someone that little.

I suggested reading Nickled and Dimed in America.

Then I started asking questions about what kind of content these workers would be subjected to—and whether they would take contracts that forced (Read more...)