Microsoft overworks and underpays Cortana transcribers, leaked contracts reveal

cortana lumia microsoft

The plot thickened for Microsoft last week when Motherboard revealed that contracted workers are, in fact, underpaid and overworked in their roles as Cortana transcribers.

In early August, the publication exposed Microsoft for employing real people to translate audio into text on Skype and listen to users accessing the Cortana assistant.

Leaked contracts revealed that the employees are paid $12 to $14 an hour to transcribe about 200 clips within that same time frame. According to an anonymous employee, the work consists of listening to Cortana commands, transcribing, and categorising them.

Motherboard noted that Microsoft’s instructions for these tasks were “hundreds of pages” long with a “dizzying” style guide.

“Our disclosures have been clear that we use customer content from Cortana and Skype Translator to improve these products, we engage third party expertise to assist in this process,” Microsoft told the publication in a statement.

Essentially, the company stands by its decision to employ real people to perform AI solutions in an attempt to make the latter more accurate.

Feature image: Microsoft

Shereesa Moodley


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