Remote county taps into AI buzz

Working as trainers for artificial intelligence systems gives women financial independence. Yan Dongjie and Ma Jingna report from Linxia, Gansu.

By Yan Dongjie and Ma Jingna | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-29 09:23
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Zhang Juan (center) and other AI trainers from Jishishan Bonan, Dongxiang and Salar autonomous county in Gansu province take part in the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai last year. CHINA DAILY

The buzz around artificial intelligence, Chat GPT and large-scale AI models saw the phrases gain recognition from dictionaries, magazines and publishers around the world last year.

In China, Chat GPT was chosen as the International Word of the Year by Commercial Press, the country's oldest publishing agency, and Yao Wen Jiao Zi, a Shanghai literary magazine, included large-scale AI model in its top 10 popular phrases for 2023.

A large-scale AI model is a machine learning system with billions of parameters and computational resources that can handle massive amounts of data and accomplish complex tasks such as natural language processing and image recognition.

But at the most fundamental level, the high-tech wizardry depends on people feeding information into the system, and that has helped change the lives of some women living in a remote county in northwestern China's Gansu province.

Two years ago, Zhang Juan left Lanzhou, the provincial capital, to return to Jishishan Bonan, Dongxiang and Salar autonomous county, where she grew up, to begin working as an AI trainer at its AIdol Plan Digital Industrial Park. An AI trainer is a person who specializes in data annotation and the training of AI systems — the most fundamental part of the vast AI industry.

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