Monday, July 24, 2006

Mechanical Turk

Salon has an article about Mechanical Turk today. I had not heard of this before, but it's a site run by Amazon that allows companies to hire people with computers and spare time to perform rote tasks that computers can't do (like looking at shoes and determining what colors they are, or transcribing podcasts). The prices are very cheap because apparently a lot of people are willing to do this type of work in their spare time almost for free.

They call it "artificial artificial intelligence", which is awesome. I think the whole thing is really cool - distributed computing using human brains.


Tam's momm said...

I saw this too and think it's a great idea. I may sign up. Of course I will have to get internet access at home first.

Debbie said...

This sounds like exactly the kind of thing I try not to do anymore: sell my work or time too cheaply.

But I guess it's like coupons. If you can gather up a few extra cents here and there while you're on the phone (or at work?) I can see the allure.

I'm still not trying it, though. Plus I did some more reading here (to see if the pay really is pretty low)--if you're going to try it, there may still be some kinds of jobs you don't want to take. Some are fake, some are even more grabby than average, and you may find some to be inethical.

sally said...

I have read about this several times in various venues and on the Turker side, it always sounds both kind of appealing and kind of a terrible time-trap. I guess you would have to view it as a hobby that has the added benefit of earning you a little extra money; if you think of it in terms of a job, the pay is really bad. From the employer side, however, it looks great. I don't share any reservations about people making less than minimum wage doing this kind of super-easy work from home, etc.

Tam said...

Yeah, I am not concerned about the less-than-minimum-wage aspect either. I might (might) feel differently if it seemed to be mainly very poor people who were taking this work, but since it's pampered people with fast internet connections and doesn't even begin to concern me.