Here’s how this Finnish startup is bringing AI training jobs to select prisons

Here’s how this Finnish startup is bringing AI training jobs to select prisons

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AI aka Artificial Intelligence (AI) has advanced rapidly in the recent times. It is the ability to design machines that can think. The idea behind AI is to make lives easier for humans as it performs all the tedious tasks.

AI is transforming several sectors including health, fintech and much more. The technology finds use in autonomous vehicles, drones, etc. and creates significant business opportunities. It also forecasts weather, plays an important role in disaster response and more. While it has a wide range of applications, a Finnish startup is using prison inmates to train AI, claims The Verge.

Vainu helps make inmates productive

Well, Finland has progressive prison policies and its prisons are called open prisons and let inmates live and work like other citizens. Sometimes, prisoners are allowed to work outside or be self-employed. Making use of these policies, Vainu, a Finnish AI startup has partnered with two prisons and Finland’s CSA (Criminal Sanctions Agency) to bring AI training jobs to select inmates in Helsinki and Turku.

Founded in 2013 by Mikko Honkanen, Pietari Suvanto and Tuomas Rasila, Vainu spent three months depending on the prison labor in order to train the AI algorithm it has developed. Earlier, it paid people via Mechanical Turk to prepare AI training data similar to other startups in the sector. Now, with the collaboration with the Finnish CSA, it has access to more Finnish-speaking labour.

How Vainu uses human labour?

Vainu makes use of prisoners to scan news articles and find if they discuss acquisitions or similar topics. This way, the company uses the articles to train its AI algorithm. It hopes to help connect companies and contractors. Though it used Mechanical Turk earlier, only one person could help the company scan Finnish articles.

Is it beneficial for inmates?

The duty of the inmates is to train Vainu’s AI so that it finds the right data. Though it is considered to help prisoners acting as rehabilitation, it appears to be a source of cheap and unrewarding labour for the company. Vainu pays the CSA and the cash will be divided among the working inmates. Eventually, the inmates who work with training the AI make less money.

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