Artificial Artificial Intelligence

Recently Amazon launched a new service they call the Mechanical Turk. It is a very interesting scheme that allows humans to get paid for work that computers cannot do. When I tried it out yesterday, I was given the name of a business, its address and 5 different photographs that were taken near the business. It was up to me to select the photograph that best represented the business specified by the name and address. If I was successful I would get paid $.03. With my slow connection I only managed to try 4 different locations, and out of those 4, I was only able to be decisive about one. Sadly, by the time I made my decision someone else had already solved the puzzle. Yet it was a fascinating glimpse into the future, a future where human thinking and ingenuity become commoditized.

For Africa and the developing world the Automatic Turk is a good way to earn some cash. Assuming the work doesn't require local knowledge just 33 selections will earn a Malawian more money than they can make in a day. If each selection requires 2 minutes to complete, then an Amazon Turk worker could earn a dollar an hour - big money in Malawi and many parts of the world.

I was going to write more, but I discovered that Ethan Zuckerman said pretty much everything I was going to say. I recommend reading it.

Anyways, try it out and let me know what you think. Shall I open an Amazon Mechanical Turk factory in Malawi?

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