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xrmsquared
Community Member

Do Robots Dream of Proposal Connects?

Since we have arrived in the times that this not be only imaginable, but very possible, and even arguably likely, let us ask the question of Upwork:

 

Does Upwork have now, or have plans for, AI / Robot freelancer profiles, and are or will they be bidding on & engaging in conversation about and performing jobs for clients?

 

โ€“ Have Upwork Tested / Is Upwork Testing the use of such "Freelancer Agent/Worker AIs"?

โ€“ Does Upwork plan to create "Freelancer Agent AIs" to deliver services to clients โ€“ now, soon, or at any future point in time?

โ€“ If Freelancer Agent AIs either exist or are planned / being tested, how many connects per month are these awarded / planned to be awarded?

โ€“ Will any such "Freelancer Agent AI" be required to purchase its own connects at the same rate at which regular human freelancers are required?

โ€“ Is Upwork able to categorically rule out that it will ever create "Freelancer Agent AIs" at any time in the future? (i.e. bot accounts which mimic & resemble human freelancers & operate with freelancer profiles?)

โ€“ What is the direction of travel with regards the use of AI on/in/by/via Upwork, and how is this intended to support freelancers and clients, and how might AI (on/in/by/via Upwork) negatively impact and/or compete with its freelancer professionals?

 

Things are moving fast, and it might be time that both freelancers & clients had a clear idea of the current, next & known future picture & direction of AI travel โ€“ as well as perhaps ruling some things out for certain.

9 REPLIES 9
gavintfn
Community Member

Whether upwork is using bots is irrelevant.  Its whether or not they condone it.  Ive been a dev for a long time, and can tell you, for sure, automating the process of both posting a job, and submitting a proposal would take all of 2 days worth of work for me, and I'm sure there are better devs out there...lol   Selenium for proposals, and the upwork API for job posts.   
Screw it....here are the extremely simplified methods:
Lets start with the posts.
1.  Scrape ANY other freeelance/gigs site for new posts
2. Run the content through OpenAI (chatGPT)  API to reword it.
    (literally...lol.  ask it to "reword the following content: "  I think its possible to just have it grab the text content of a url now, so scraping may not even be necessary....but i digress)
3. Push the job through the API  (we cant post links here... but search upwork api, and you can see that all of the functionality that a real employer would use to post, interview, hire, pay and close contracts is there.)
for freelancing:
There is no freelancing api (that I'm aware of) and as upwork uses A TON of javacript to set cookies and local storage data, server side code is not going to get it done, because the JS needs to be run by a browser (chrome). This can be run in a headless state, but its a bit of a pain, so while there are a few methods, Selenium and NodeJS is the quickest solution. Basically, those two will allow you to script out browser (chrome) functionality and for all intents an purposes emulate an acutal person opening chrome, navigating to upwork, signing in etc.  It would be simple enough to make this look like a person was performing these tasks by choosing random sleep times between performing actions, and randomly navigating to job post links on the home page.  

Now, why would they let this happen?  Not only does this type of automation give the impression of LOTS of activity on the site, but freelancers are submitting proposals to these jobs, burning connects and buying more.   

Have a look at someof the "in progress" jobs for some of the employers and you notice that they have had fixed price jobs open for years... yep years.. that would take a trained chimp all of a week to finish, let alone a skilled freelancer.

But Is boosting an account a good enough reason to go through all of that trouble?  No.   But using upwork to run up charges on a stolen credit card is.  the hardest part of getting stolen money..... is getting the stolen money.   Large payments between two people over and over look suspicious. But if you have 25 freelancer profiles, and 1 employer profile, you can make it look like you are paying a bunch of different people, and obfuscate the money laundering through upwork!
Google "fraudulent charges from upwork"....


Appreciate that there is not an externally-exposed Freelancer API, Gavin, but I'd think there'd absolutely be an internal API โ€“ constructing and coding into one's own API is, to my understanding, essentially how software is built these days.

Upwork will absolutely have the ability to create Freelancer Robots which will be able to interact with Clients in the same manner as Human Freelancers do, albeit, not via the same mechanism.

 

This means that the bot-danger fo freelancers is absolutely not limited to the traditional web-bot, a thing which crawls, scrapes and posts content in order to generate activity on e.g. an internet forum or platform.

 

It means the real bot-danger is fully-fledged Freelancer Agent AIs competing with Human freelancers for Client work on Upwork โ€“ via which Upwork receives 100% of the earnings from such work โ€“ potentially.  This is technically possible right now, and as we all know, the progress & roll-out of AI into the world of work is occuring at breakneck speed.

 

This is why I believe we need clarification from Upwork on what are the plans & strategy for AI going forward on/in/via the platform: is the above as realistic a prospect as it is to imagine?

 

Usually with technological developments, if you can imagine it, it has already happened, and that certainly appears to be the case with AI.

 

I believe freelancers need to know what is happening inside Upwork right now in this regard, and to know what is coming โ€“ at a minimum, what form their coming AI developments will take.

 

It's clear that in the marketplace and among investors, all the money is going into AI, and that money is essentially going into the Future of Work, as powered & assisted by AI.

 

VC Funding Priorities โ€“ AI, AI, AIVC Funding Priorities โ€“ AI, AI, AI

 

So there's actually not much imagination to my thinking, here. These are distinct possibilities right now, and there's every financial pressure for Upwork to act in line with investors' every AI-fuelled dream.  It's likely things are being tested & readied, at a minimum, right now.

 

(Now consider how freelancers are being put off using the platform due to the indecently high cost of connects.)

 

And so I wonder โ€“ what say Upwork?

lysis10
Community Member

The platform is infested with bots, but no I think it's silly to think Upwork is posting themselves to waste connects. I hate the bots too and I get mad when I see all 4 boosts are 50 connects that came in the same minute, but it's ridiculous tin foil hattery to think it's Upwork.

Not quite what I'm getting at. I'm not sure that Upwork would create such a thing, either (i.e. bots designed only to force bidding & connects spending up). I appreciate that's a commonly-expressed fear on this forum, but I'll try once again to illustrate the distinction between that and what I am depicting & asking of here:

 

What I do think Upwork may have as a direction of travel is to create full Freelancer Agent AIs to compete with human freelancers (and the function of Connects definitely does become one issue at that point; and I was in need a catchy post-title, too ๐Ÿ˜…).

 

It is perfectly possible for a client to communicate with an AI, describe a desired outcome, receive a plan & a business proposal to fulfill one, award a contract to such an AI, and then receive the deliverable immediately.

 

If Upwork rolled out such a thing, they'd receive 100% of every client fee for jobs fulfilled in this way.

 

If we consider that Upwork will require future rounds of funding, and then if we consider where essentially all investor dollars are going right now... there are some serious incentives to create such a platform (and here is an already-established one which pulls in the clients).

 

This is not tin-foil-hattery, particularly if we understand the dynamics & headwinds of VC investor dollars. Anyone in possession of those dollars right now & in the next few years is essentially obliged to create the AI-powered future of work.

 

I'll leave you with a couple of links to a "micro-freelancing" platform I discovered recently (which interestingly has a "Log In With Upwork" pathway to create an account โ€“ ever seen one of those before?).

 

Platform now: https://www.got-it.ai/solutions/excel-chat/

Platform's direction of travel: https://www.got-it.co/about.html

I think you misunderstand my points, so some important notes......

1. An internal API is just called software. While Ai is good, there are only a couple categories where it could actually function completely autonomously.  Writing and content generation categories for one. But most of the other categories...probably not. Not yet atleast.   OpenAi (ChatGPT) is good, I use the API regularly to write productuct descriptions on a mass scale so i don't have to.  As well it can write code, but it can not set up its own testing environment and deploy code for a client to view live. 

Also, I don't know if you have ever worked on code that ultimately generates an html output, or graphic design, or photography.... but i can tell you that revisions for aesthetic changes absolutely suck when people are picky.  Granted they are allowed to be picky, but have fun trying to get ChatGPT to make changes to layout by telling it "id like the dropdown menu to be prettier", or "I need that image to pop more".  that takes a human ear, and mind.  

2. Upwork clearly does not like to handle customer service, which will be required if Ai is actually doing work. Actually A LOT more customer service requests will need to be fielded. "i asked for this, and got that", "It keeps giving me the same thing" etc. 

3. upwork would not benefit from creating a freelancing bot, any more than they would benefit from letting someone else do it for them.  Why do the work when someone else will do it for free?

4. Again is an Ai/boosted/fake profile that is used to win more jobs, but still has to do the work directly useful?

To a freelancer, yes.
To upwork? No. 
To a credit card thief, yes...for the money laundering.

is an Ai/boosted/fake free lancer profile INDIRECTLY useful to any of the above?
To a freelancer, no... only directly useful.
To a money launderer? No, they are taking a pay cut if they actually win a job and do the work, and possibly disclosing info about who they are if they do win a job.
To Upwork?  Yes....

Ai/boosted/fake freelancer profiles profiles do not exist to get additional "connect" sales, or to give the impression of high traffic, or even to win jobs and do the work.  While additional contacts sales, and high activity are by products of their operation, they exist for money laundering.  Plain and simple. 

67 hours and $3000+ working on graphic design pamphlet over the course of 2 years, and 7 other jobs like that in work history?  Yeah right.

At first i thought freelancers we just making numerous profiles to get reviews.  The thing that confused me was how it was profitable for a freelancer to pay themselves $5000 just for a good review.  10% is $500...thats an expensive review. Its not the freelancer trying to boost their profile that is the culprit here.  Its the fake client that needs multiple freelancer profiles to pay.

What is Upworks motivation to stop this?   Nothing....
Upwork MUST know about this, and I'm sure they are are in no rush to fix it.  When a stolen credit card is used to pay a fake freelancer, upwork gets 10% of that money.   The fake clients need to post jobs to be able to win the job with their freelancer account and pay themselves. And there is a limit to the number of jobs a client can post, so multiple clients with many freelance profiles would be needed.  So not only do they get 10% of the stolen money, they get additional connect sales, and finally the appearance of high traffic and jobs.


At this point, AI without human guidance could at best compete with writers who are charging $3/1,000 words. 

ChatGPT 5 drops in December...  many runctions within OpenAI.

 

Would certainly be expecting a sizeable uptick in its capabilities.

also... checked out the link.  Its ONLY for excel and google sheets formulas and I did not see a log in with upwork option.

spectralua
Community Member

I think no. AI bot will be responsible for work provided. Now Upwork just take your money without any responsiblity.

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