Want somebody to do many tiny bits of easy work…?

Check out Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Web service. You submit tiny workloads that can’t be processed by a computer (e.g. “is there a coca cola bottle shown in this photo?”) and Amazon has a horde of people that answer the questions for some cents each.

Amazon writes:

Amazon Mechanical Turk provides a web services API for computers to integrate “artificial artificial intelligence” directly into their processing by making requests of humans. Developers use the Amazon Mechanical Turk web service to submit tasks to the Amazon Mechanical Turk web site, approve completed tasks, and incorporate the answers into their software applications. To the application, the transaction looks very much like any remote procedure call: the application sends the request, and the service returns the results. Behind the scenes, a network of humans fuels this artificial artificial intelligence by coming to the web site, searching for and completing tasks, and receiving payment for their work.

They invented this service when they came across a problem for their A9.com search engine:

Amazon Mechanical Turk is being used to increase the quality of A9’s BlockView pictures that show users street-level pictures of businesses. These HITs ask people to select from several photographs the one that best presents the front of a business.

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