Amazon Mechanical Turk

Status: Real service named after a hoax 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.


Posted on Tue Nov 08, 2005


It doesn't seem like I'll be making a lot of money doing this, but I may give it a shot if I get REALLY bored.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  08:08 AM
Well, it looks like you will probably make a few cent's for each task completed...So, it seems like an interesting job for someone that is bored.....I am thinking about signing up.....
Posted by X  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  08:15 AM
Oook, I registered...and I started doing it....It is VERY easy, but what I an doing is looking at multiple pictures of store fronts and choosing which ones should represent the store.....But these are the most horrible pictures though.....and if your suggestion is accepted, you make 3 cent's per hit...but this takes no time to do....kinda fun....
Posted by X  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  09:34 AM
It appears to be a street-level mapping service of some kind - where you would search for businesses in a particular city and get directions, an address, and a picture of the actual location
Posted by Nick  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  02:08 PM
I can see it now

Amazon: we do have people running the place! but they're all dumb asses so.... Hey! thats all we could afford, so yeah... shut up!
Posted by Blood For Nothing  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  03:04 PM
I tried it last night. I did about over one hundred "hits" in about an hour, which I guess would make me a whopping $3. or so, assuming all my hits are accepted, that is.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 09, 2005  at  05:41 PM
So far I have .27 cents in my account...!! yeah!!!
Posted by X  on  Thu Nov 10, 2005  at  07:19 AM
Geeze, they are literally taken from a moving car. I had three images of the UPS truck in the next lane. If this weren't Amazon, I'd say it was a scam. As it is, it might just be a hoax. Either way, it seems rather poorly implemented.
Posted by Charybdis  on  Thu Nov 10, 2005  at  01:22 PM
I agree that this must be some kind of mapping project. I am really enjoying seeing the country through pictures. These are not touristy, but real-to-life pictures, and it is most interesting to me.
I have almost made a whole dollar so far! 😛
I like the pics more than the money, obviously.
Posted by thephrog  on  Thu Nov 10, 2005  at  02:36 PM
I also was wondering how much the people with the cameras on their cars were making? I want to do that job! 😊 Get paid to drive around town. Yeah!
Posted by thephrog  on  Thu Nov 10, 2005  at  02:39 PM
From a description page there (somewhere I read it, but I don't remember where), it seems at least one of the ways they can check the work is to give the same "hit" (such as the choosing the best storefront photo) to multiple people and if they all give the same answer then it is accepted and they all get payed. Assuming the hits are handed out at random with no way to force a certain one to appear, that would keep liars and cheats from messing things up.

They also said it's possible for a person who wants to hand out tasks using their system to choose to review the work and approve it. However, it seems to me that would invite cheating. Some cheater could post a job to say write a product description (one of the tasks that was there when I looked), wait for someone to submit one, reject it but go ahead and use it anyway, geting the text without paying for it.
Posted by kf  on  Fri Nov 11, 2005  at  04:34 PM
Over at the Britannica Blog, William Hosch has posted a sketch of the Mechanical Turk, if you'd like to see it for yourself.
Posted by EB Gal  on  Fri Nov 17, 2006  at  06:27 PM
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