Saturday, November 12, 2005

Shira's new obsession

The other day I cam across a link for Amazon's Mechanical Turk [1]. This is a really simple, but powerful idea. The concept works like this: some tasks are trivial for a human, and really tricky for a machine. The example Amazon uses is: "is there a pizza parlor in this picture?"

Amazon's Mechanical Turk allows companies (including Amazon) to register jobs with the system. The workers, like Shira (or yourself), can tackle these jobs. In Shira's case, each job pays a whopping $0.03 (that's right, three pennies). Yet, the jobs really are pretty simple, so it doesn't take long to make it to $0.25, and maybe even a buck.

Amazon calls it: Artificial Artificial Intelligence. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Anyway, Shira's hooked. She'll do just about anything to make an extra buck or two (except manual labor - she's gotta draw the line somewhere). She's having fun, and it's almost a game to see how you can optimize the process such that you make your pennies the fastest.

I, personally, am just impressed with the idea. The fact is, a company with one business guy (or gal) and one technical gal (or guy) could have launched this same idea with almost no resources. Gosh I love the internet.

Curious why they call it the Mechanical Turk? Google Mechanical Turk Hoax and find out the history behind the term.

My guess is, that by the time I've written this message, Shira will be $0.15 richer!



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