Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mechanical Turk

I recently heard about Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" project and decided to try it out. Basically, the project takes a number of tasks that are simple for humans but difficult for computers (like picking out a band's name from an album cover) and distributing it to people online. You get paid a few pennies per task you complete.

Here is their opening page

Here is an example of the sorts of tasks (HITS) you can do:

Unfortunately, there were too many people want trying to do the tasks, and I found that I could not pick one fast enough to be selected to do it.

I put in about 20 minutes of effort and made 3 cents. Better keep my day job.

For all the money invested in optical character recognition technology and artificial intelligence, I am amused that the most efficient way to identify the name of an album is by distributing it across the internet and having hundreds of online penny-wage workers (with Internet connectivity!) read and click.


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