Transforming a legion of clickworkers into a $7.3 billion AI unicorn: The story of Alexandr Wang

Alexandr Wang, the co-founder of Scale AI, has raised concerns about China’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on global stability. While on a trip to his ancestral homeland, Wang listened to impressive presentations by China’s leading engineers on AI but was concerned that they avoided discussing how the technology might be used. His fears led him to create Scale AI, which provides data services primarily to self-driving auto-makers. Wang believes that AI could soon cause global instability, as the world order has remained stable for the past 80 years thanks to American leadership. Wang’s rise began with a bet he made in 2016 to “label” the mass of data required to power AI, which enabled Scale to gain clients such as the US government. Last year, Scale pulled in $250m in revenue, making it one of the few AI start-ups to achieve profitability. However, concerns have emerged about the ethical implications of Scale’s use of a vast outsourced workforce in the Global South to perform a crucial task – labelling the data used to train AI.

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