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Positive Externalities: Life of a Labeler

by Scale Team June 4th, 2019

At Scale, we contract people from all over the world who help us label data. We were wondering how much of an impact this could have on people’s lives — so we asked some of our labelers for times when working for Scale made a positive difference in their lives.

Their responses blew us away. One of our labelers would not have been able to afford medical care for her father were it not for Scale. Some live in Venezuela, a country currently experiencing severe hyperinflation, making it difficult to afford even basic things like food — a significant humanitarian crisis. Working for Scale has made it possible for them to live in dignity — in the words of one of the interviewees, “I can now buy an ice cream for my boy when he asks for it.”

These are some of those stories. Many companies make the world better in at least some way — perhaps if we spent more time noticing and amplifying those positive externalities, it would raise the expectations of all companies.



Maureen

Maureen

40 years. Living in Pasay City, Philippines, a stay-at-home mom who wanted to work, but couldn’t.

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How do you think your life is different from life in the United States?

There’s a big difference. The city which I live in is very congested. Although there are a lot of jobs being offered, some companies have set a high standard when it comes to recruiting people. The age limit is also another thing - aside from the BPO companies, there’s not much of an opportunity for you if you’re over 30. In the US, you have daycare facilities wherein you can leave a child and the mother can work - here we don’t have that kind of option. We resort to house helpers, who sometimes leave without notice. Now you’re faced with the dilemma of who would take care of your child - eventually you’re forced to quit your job. These are just some snippets of what life is like here.

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If you didn’t work for Scale, what would you be doing for a job? What big differences does it make in your life to work for Scale instead of that other job?

I have been unemployed for quite some time now, because I had to give up my job to care for my children. Before Scale, I used to sell on an online app which is now saturated. What I like about Scale is I am able to work and care for my children at the same time. Since I've just started, my earnings aren't very high yet. But I feel really good about 1. the thought that I AM and WILL BE able to contribute something for the family, after all this is for them. 2. that I will be able to support my son’s therapy and 3. to be able to spend or buy something for myself without feeling guilty, because I always think of their needs first before mine.

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What do your friends and people in your local community think about working for Scale?

They are so mesmerized that they feel urgency to do the tasks too. They think that once I started working for Scale, I got a lot of time to spend with my family and I even have time for myself. They see me now as a more fun and enthusiastic person than before. I can see that other people who work for Scale also started to show happiness in their faces.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

Nine. Working for Scale has given me a great sense of fulfillment. For years, I had been unemployed and mostly relied on the salary of my husband. Scale is a welcoming experience. I used to be depressed before because I felt worthless. I had a degree and a career but I gave it all up to care for my family and was reduced to just being a housewife. I was so caught up and overwhelmed with everything that I forgot myself. Now I’m happy that I finally get to do something that I like. It has given me a new way to improve myself, to discover things and realize that I can still do more. I can earn and still care for my children at the same time.



Angel

32 years. Living in Venezuela, a father who was able to continue living with his family

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If you didn’t work for Scale, what would you be doing for a job? What big differences does it make in your life to work for Scale instead of that other job?

Well, I believe in God. We often say that God provides and opens doors. I used to work at a factory, but due to the situation in the country, I had to leave that job in search of a bigger income. I had never heard about working on websites. I used to repair computers and cellphones, doing designs for business. Defeated by the situation, a friend told me about working on the internet. I believe that Scale was a door that God opened for me. I have a wife and a three year old boy. My wife is a doctor, and my earnings with Scale are far above hers. I've been able to bring food and dress to my home. We even bought a car - not a new one, but it is a car, our family vehicle. A thing which could not be accomplished by working for years at my other job. I taught my mom this job and she is 65 years old. She is the proof that if you put your effort in, nothing is impossible. She has good earnings on Scale.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

Definitely 10! I know for sure that some people may be saying that this is ridiculous, that the money you can earn here is not a big deal in their country, but to people in countries like mine it is really a big help. I can buy an ice cream for my boy when he asks for it. I can take my family on a car ride! I can buy medicine when someone in my family needs it. Some of my friends have been able to do this job as well. Surely if Scale did not exist, I would have to leave my country, leaving my wife and children behind, to seek opportunities somewhere else, not knowing if we will ever see each other again.



Maximilian

27 years. Living in Venezuela, saved enough money to emigrate and pursue a master’s degree in data science.

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How do you think your life is different from life in the United States?

The great difference between the reality of my life and the life of a person in the United States is the peace and tranquility that comes from economic stability: being able to eat without worrying about running out of money; being able to buy clothes frequently; not having to worry about covering the most basic needs, such as water; not having to worry about transportation problems; and, most importantly (at least for me), is that by working hard and staying focused on a goal, one can achieve the desired objectives. In theory, the more you work, the better off you should be, like in the US, but in my country, that does not happen.

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If you didn’t work for Scale, what would you be doing for a job? What big differences does it make in your life to work for Scale instead of that other job?

If I did not have a job with Scale, it would have been simply impossible to reach my goal of legally emigrating from my country, which is currently in a political and economic crisis. I can now say that, with much personal effort and dedication, I was able to save the money necessary to take the next step in my life, which is to leave my country and to get a Master’s degree in Data Science. My parents did not have a dime to give me; therefore, my dream depended on me alone. I was very lucky to encounter Scale because whenever there is a goal, there is always a way. On May 29 this year, I leave for Chile, a trip made possible by working hard for Scale.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

On a scale from 1 to 10, Scale had an impact of 10 on my life. For the simple reason that it was truly impossible to achieve my goals in my country. I have a degree in biology, and no company I worked for would allow me to earn enough money to save. No company would value me more than Scale valued my time.



Amr

Amr

31 years. Living in Egypt, left his previous job because of its effect on his health

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If you didn’t work for Scale, what would you be doing for a job? What big differences does it make in your life to work for Scale instead of that other job?

I have worked in banking for more than four years. I resigned from my last job - banking administrator - because it was very stressful, and I believe that one should always give the physical and mental health priority. I decided to learn a new skill that gave me the chance to work through my computer and change my lifestyle. I knew that it would take long time until I could be a professional worker from home. I found in Scale a chance to learn new skills through organized courses, a modern work system, work community, and good support. In fact, I could not have imagined such a thing because I searched for it for so long, and most other websites have a monthly subscription. Scale gave me the freedom to work at home. Now I have time to think about starting a small business in my local city, which enables me to get more financial freedom and avoid jobs like all my previous terrifying jobs. For me, that is a big accomplishment. Right now, I don't need to find a regular job like before, whether in Egypt or outside.

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What do your friends and people in your local community think about working for Scale?

They think it's great to make money while working from home, and they think that I was a genius for doing that. I explained to them how it works, but they found it hard because they cannot read and understand English. Other people think it is great but don’t have enough time to learn a new skill because their current jobs and responsibilities consume all the available time in the day.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

I will go for 10, because I feel positive after working from my computer and because I found a source of income. I get paid for helping companies all over the world - this is great. I like the kinds of job which pay me for my work and time. While working on Scale, I don't have a monthly target, and I don’t have pressure like in all my previous horrible jobs. If I find a good job in my country, I will still work on the side for Scale because I like it and I am not forced to do it.



Cristian

26 years. Living in Bogota, Colombia, a father who gets to spend more time with his daughter.

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How do you think your life is different from life in the United States?

Life is very different, especially economically, since the purchasing power in my country is very low as a result of lack of education. In addition, in the United States people have better access to technology, innovation, and all of the scientific fields. Here, for example, we have to wait a few months after the launch of any cutting edge electronic device before we can buy or access it. In the United States, it is the opposite. One can just go and buy it before its official launch. In my country, work is very poorly paid. That limits our purchasing power, so our quality of life is limited to needs and necessities as we save everything we can to improve the lives of our children. In the United States, it is normal to have one or two cars, as well as a house and to go on vacations every year. This is achieved in a relatively short time. In my country it is different, since cars are very expensive. There is also terrible traffic, and to buy a very small apartment it is necessary to work for at least 15 years while earning the current legal minimum wage. In conclusion, the differences are those between being a third world country and being a first world country. These differences are many.

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If you didn’t work for Scale, what would you be doing for a job? What big differences does it make in your life to work for Scale instead of that other job?

Scale has been a pillar of change in my life, because now that I work for them, I can work when there are tasks, and this way, I can save my time. It leaves me a lot of time to live life and to enjoy time with my daughter, my mother, and my wife. Now I can go to the park to do the things that I like to do, and enjoy things in a more complete way, without stress and almost without worry. In addition to the economic life, my life is full. Before, in traditional work, my life was gray, stressful, and bitter, so it has been a change for the better.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

On a scale of one to ten, the positive impact of Scale on my life has been a seven, because now I have more time to share with my friends and family, and especially with my five-year-old daughter. Now I can spend more time with her doing schoolwork, going to the park, playing with her, and eating ice cream. I can do any of this any day because I do not have to keep regular hours. I used to work for a big company for just a dozen dollars a month, spending eighty hours each week following orders from a bad person, and physically wasting away to the point of falling ill. If I earned more money, it was of no use because I was always in a bad mood and felt stressed. I got sick, so the money was spent on doctors as I tried to feel better for myself and my family. Working for Scale is much better.



Maria

Maria

32 years. Living in Albay, Philippines, took care of her father’s medical expenses

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If you didn’t work for Scale, what would you be doing for a job? What big differences does it make in your life to work for Scale instead of that other job?

I happen to have discovered Scale by a mere happenstance. I was trying to find out how to make a PayPal account in order to be able to claim a prize i won online. I then came across a video by a Philippine-based youtube content creator, who mentioned Scale. It was great timing since I was unemployed. I told myself it would not hurt to try. I never had this much time before, since after getting my bachelor's degree in political science, I went straight to law school. I had to leave law school in the middle because I could no longer afford it. My father was hospitalized three weeks ago because of a stroke, so I was not able to do any tasks while he was confined at the hospital. However, the money I was able to save up from doing tasks was enough for me to pay for my 81 year old father's hospital care. Without that money, I am not sure what we would do. Through Scale, I was able to afford to buy stuff that will assist my dad as he tries to recover from stroke. I bought my dad a walker and wheelchair. That’s why I am proud of every centavo I make on this platform. It may not be a whole lot to others, but working for Scale is a great help for people who cannot leave home to work because they have to take care of a family member. Once my father gets better and is able to walk on his own, I am planning to learn how to do more kinds of tasks. I know there’s more opportunity for me to earn and save even more money, which I can use to finance my law review expenses and help fulfill my dream of becoming a lawyer.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

As of the moment, I would rate Scale’ impact on my life an eight. Why? I have not fully explored the platform yet. I have not ventured onto more advanced tasking which I believe would help develop my full potential and skills. I joined this platform only two months ago. Technical mastery and work related skills take time to acquire. Upon the attainment of those additional skills, I will gain more understanding with the corresponding financial rewards. I do admit that the monetary benefits we get here on Scale are a great motivating factor. It has positively affected the lives of a great number of individuals including mine. Scale taught me how to be resourceful and self sufficient, in a way indirectly benefitting my family as well, since it gives me the power to provide for the special needs of my loved ones, like for example my dad. I feel proud and confident to say that I helped my dad with my own hard earned money, which I was able to save up from doing tasks.



Victor

68 years. Living in Venezuela, is inspired by contributing to robotics.

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How do you think your life is different from life in the United States?

Currently, the difference is very marked, or rather, there is no comparison: the US is a country with a high consumption rates and a low unemployment rate while in Venezuela, the political system that governs us has caused the highest inflation in the world (hyperinflation). The minimum monthly salary of a worker is just $3.3. As a result, more than 85% of people live below poverty line. This forces most of us to seek alternatives in order to increase our incomes and to acquire the basic supply of food for survival. There is no possible comparison.

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On a scale of 1-10, how much of a positive impact has Scale had on your life? Why?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate it as 8. A year ago, when I started working for Scale, I was a bit overwhelmed by economic difficulties, just like the majority of the population in my country, which currently suffers the highest inflation in the world and where food prices and other expenses increase daily. Working for Scale has allowed me to alleviate this situation somewhat, making the economic crisis that currently affects almost everyone more bearable. The main goal of the job is the daily improvement of the information necessary for artificial intelligence, so that it can safely operate vehicles and do other things. I feel that I am participating in something that will soon become common in many countries with advanced technology. Robotics is no longer just science fiction that we read about in the books of Isaac Asimov. The future is now.