on the cover

On the Cover: New York Magazine’s Cover Story Goes Inside the AI Factory

Photo: New York Magazine

New York Magazine’s June 19–July 2 cover story, published in partnership with The Verge, is a feature by The Verge’s investigations editor Josh Dzieza on the vast and growing “tasker” underclass. Millions of people, working across the globe for companies whose connections to Silicon Valley are kept secret, are teaching algorithms what reality looks like. As AI grows in power and sophistication, this work is expected to balloon, reshaping the information economy in the process.

“Training AI is a never-ending arms race between humans and machines. I wanted to see what the human side of that equation looked like now that generative AI has gotten so good,” said Dzieza. “It turns out that it’s extremely hard! And strange. Talking with trainers, or ‘annotators,’ it became clear that this work gives you a better understanding of what these magical-seeming systems are actually doing (even if people are prevented from knowing exactly what they’re working on), what they can’t do yet, and what the role for humans might be in an AI-driven economy.”

The cover image, of taskers outside Nairobi, was provided by an annotator interviewed for the story.

Also in the issue is a new package, “The Transgender Family Handbook,” spearheaded by the Cut. Written and reported by Amelia Schonbek, Erin Schwartz, Camille Squires, Laura Thompson, Tiana Randall, Marisa Carroll, Jordan Larson, and Angelina Chapin, the project is a practical guide for parents and family on how to support a transgender child with recommendations on everything from books and support groups to navigating school and inclusive shopping recommendations. Contributors interviewed more than 100 transgender children and adults, their parents, and health-care providers to collect specific suggestions families might find helpful.

Elsewhere in the issue, Kerry Howley writes on the marriage of Clarence and Ginni Thomas, Olivia Nuzzi comments on the Trump indictment, and Errol Louis provides a behind-the-scenes account of what is happening at the New York City Police Department following the departure of Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

New York Magazine’s Cover Story Goes Inside the AI Factory