The Unsung Heroes Fueling the AI Revolution

Filipino freelancers are fueling Big Tech’s ML models

Aug. 15th, 2023
 The Unsung Heroes Fueling the AI Revolution
  • Freelancers from the Philippines, India, and Pakistan are driving the growth of global freelancing jobs.

  • Data entry (and labeling) is by far the most common skill the freelancers have and job type they fulfill. Data entry freelancers are the unsung heroes of the AI revolution, as these jobs are fundamental to generating training data for large machine learning models that big tech relies on.

  • Filipino data entry freelancers have earned close to 2 billion dollars since 2020, as opposed to half a billion generated by US freelancers.

In a previous newsletter, we reported the huge increase in the popularity of gig platforms, especially among international freelancers. Today, only 1 in 4 freelancers on a prominent US freelancing platform is US-based. This week, we are taking a closer look at the international freelancing community and their skills. Freelancers from India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Nigeria play a major role in the expansion of the global freelance community.

Emerging economies are driving freelance growth

Besides being from emerging economies, the common denominator of these countries is that English is among their official languages. This makes communication with the predominantly US client base a lot easier. So what are the top skills that freelancers have to offer? By far the most frequently mentioned skill is data entry and labeling.

Data entry is the most common skill among freelancers

Data entry and labeling is a crucial step in many machine learning models, especially when it comes to classification algorithms where raw data needs to be labeled first. Big tech companies use such models extensively. Data labeling is the hidden, labor-intensive part of big tech’s AI revolution!

Zooming in on the data entry skills of freelancers, how much does the cost of those jobs vary by country, and how much work do those prices result in?

Filipino data entry freelancers have generated 2B in revenue

Filipino freelancers are fueling the AI revolution: They are offering data entry work at a third of the price compared to Americans. As a result, three times as many data entry freelancing jobs are being done in the Philippines relative to the US. The total volume of data entry work is close to 2 billion dollars in the Philippines, as compared to just over half a billion in the US since 2020.

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