Google Ends Partnership with Appen, Leaving Evaluators Uncertain

by | Jan 23, 2024

Google’s recent termination of its contract with Appen, a well-known provider of third-party human search quality raters, has surprised many. This decision has sparked speculation about the future of quality raters and the potential role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in replacing them. With the contract abruptly ending on March 19, 2024, Appen and its remote workers now face an uncertain future.

For more than a decade, Google has relied on quality raters to evaluate and improve the search experience for its users. These raters play a critical role in assessing the relevance and quality of search results, ensuring that Google’s algorithms deliver accurate and reliable information. However, the sudden termination of the contract with Appen suggests that Google is reevaluating its approach to quality rating.

The news of this termination came as a shock to Appen, as the company had a long-standing partnership with Google. Appen received the termination notice via email on January 20, 2024. The abruptness of this decision has left many questioning the reasons behind Google’s move.

One possible explanation for this termination is cost reduction. Appen generated $82.8 million in revenue from Google during the previous fiscal year, making the termination of the contract a strategic cost-cutting measure. However, it is unclear if this decision is solely driven by financial considerations or if it reflects doubts about the quality of work performed by the raters.

Interestingly, there is speculation about the potential replacement of human quality raters with AI. As Generative AI technology advances, it becomes possible that the role of quality raters could be automated. This would streamline the evaluation process and potentially reduce costs for Google in the long run. However, it is uncertain if Google is genuinely considering this approach or if the termination of the contract with Appen is part of a broader strategic shift.

The termination of this contract also has significant implications for the thousands of remote workers who relied on Appen for employment. With all projects with Appen coming to a halt, these workers now face an uncertain future. It is unclear if Google will continue the evaluation work through other companies or if they are planning a more substantial change in their quality rating approach.

Cyrus Shepard, a Google Search Quality Rater, expressed surprise upon receiving the news of the contract termination from Appen. The suddenness of the decision has left many quality raters questioning the future of their roles within Google’s search ecosystem. The fate of the Quality Rater program itself also remains uncertain, as Google has not provided any clear indication of its plans moving forward.

Google has confirmed that it collaborates with several other suppliers for quality rating and external feedback on its products. This suggests that the termination of the contract with Appen does not indicate a complete abandonment of quality raters. However, the long-standing partnership between Google and Appen, one of the industry’s major players, raises doubts about whether other companies can adequately fill the void left by Appen’s departure.

As news of Google’s contract termination with Appen spreads throughout the industry, the future of quality raters hangs in the balance. Will AI technology eventually replace human raters entirely, or will a hybrid approach be adopted? The answers to these questions will have far-reaching implications for the search engine giant and its users.

In conclusion, Google’s termination of the contract with Appen has sent shockwaves through the world of quality raters. The suddenness of this decision, coupled with speculation surrounding AI-based rating systems, raises questions about the future of human involvement in search result evaluation. As Google navigates this strategic review process, the industry eagerly awaits further developments in this rapidly evolving landscape.