Status: Real service named after a hoax
Amazon.com has unveiled a new web service called Amazon Mechanical Turk
. I'm making note of it here because they've named it after a famous hoax: the Great Chess Automaton
(aka the Mechanical Turk) of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen. The Mechanical Turk, which wowed audiences during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was supposedly a mechanical device that could play chess against human players (and win!). In reality, there was a man hidden inside the device who was doing the chess playing. Amazon's service similarly uses real humans to do tasks for computers. They describe it as Artificial Artificial Intelligence. Their site states: Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it.
The kind of tasks they have in mind are things such as identifying objects in pictures (simple for a human; very hard for a computer). One problem I can see with their service is that people have the tendency to lie, cheat, and make mistakes. So will they need to have a human to check the work of the other humans? In the meantime, it seems like a dream job for someone like Caias
, who will do anything for money.