Finnish startup Metroc uses inmate labor to train AI

Helsinki-based construction tech firm Metroc uses paid labor from Finnish prison inmates to train its AI models. Its search engine is designed to help construction companies find newly approved building projects. The story was published by Wired.

  • Metroc develops a market information service for construction and real estate companies, which allows companies to find new construction projects and manage customers in the same service. The startup recently raised a round of €2 million to develop in northern European countries.
  • To train its large linguistic model (answering questions, evaluating statements, etc.) it was looking for native speakers of the Finnish language. It was difficult to find regular employees in Finland with high salaries and good social security for such work. So, Matroс has decided to partner with the Finnish Criminal Sanctions Office by using the assistance of inmates, in four of the country’s prisons.
  • One of the female prisoners who works in the company has said that this work is quite dull, you get tired of it quickly, with hourly payment (not for the speed or quality of work), and for a shift of 6 hours, a prisoner can get about €6. She also added that only three inmates from the prison chose to work at the computer rather than sew clothes or do other work.
  • Smart Prison Project’s management team, which negotiated with Metroc to employ prisoners, said that such work is the future and can also prepare people for life outside the prison.