Amazon Mechanical Turk - Humans Help Slow Computers
Amazon recently introduced a new program called Amazon Mechanical Turk. This program provides a web services API (a programmer's toolkit) for letting computers enlist the aid of humans for those tasks that humans are good at (and computers are not).
(18th Century Mechanical Turk)
..humans still significantly outperform the most powerful computers at completing such simple tasks as identifying objects in photographs – something children can do even before they learn to speak.
When we think of interfaces between human beings and computers, we usually assume that the human being is the one requesting that a task be completed, and the computer is completing the task and providing the results. What if this process were reversed and a computer program could ask a human being to perform a task and return the results?
...Developers use the Amazon Mechanical Turk web services API to submit tasks to the Amazon Mechanical Turk web site, approve completed tasks, and incorporate the answers into their software applications... A network of humans fuels this Artificial Intelligence by coming to the web site, searching for and completing tasks, and receiving payment for their work.
Amazon's program is named after a famous hoax of the 18th century (see picture above). The "Mechanical Turk" was presented as an autonomous machine that could play chess; in fact, it had a secret compartment that hid a chess master who operated the dummy.
In his 1995 novel The Calcutta Chromosome, Amitav Ghosh writes about an artificial intelligence named Ava that is exactly like the Amazon Mechanical Turk application - and about the human beings who perform exactly the same kind of tasks:
Antar had met children who were like that: Why? What? When? Where? How? But children asked because they were curious; with these AVA/Iie systems it was something else - something that he could only think of as a simulated urge for self-improvement. ..
She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew about whatever [picture] that she was playing with on her screen… Once she'd wrung the last meaningless detail out of him, she'd give the object on her screen a final spin, with a bizarrely human smugness, before propelling it into horizonless limbo of her memory.
(Read more about Ava)
At present, it appears that the program is aimed at relatively low value tasks, like identifying objects in pictures. However, as applications move up the value chain, who knows what machines might ask people to do for them?
Read more at Amazon. If you are interested in the earliest mention of a chess-playing robot in sf, see autonomous chess playing robot from a story published in 1910 by Ambrose Bierce.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/14/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.' - Isaac Asimov, 1953.
Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.
Clarke Was Right, Artificial Intelligences DO Dream
'Of course you will dream. No one knows why." - Arthur C. Clarke, 1984.
Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...' - William Tenn, 1951.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Habitability Of Galactic Bulge - Good News For Foundation Fans
'Toran resigned himself to days of careful plotting between Jumps.'
Lava Tubes On Mars And Moon May Be Huge
'Most of the stuff written about Bats' Cave gives a wrong impression.'
Olfactory User Interfaces - Judith Amores Dissertation
Awakened with a whiff of lemon.
Personalized Masks Appear
'The tiger stripes on Jim's mask... made the young people easy to identify.'
Foiling Facial Recognition, Fighting Coaster Viruses, Harlan Ellison-Style
I have no mouth and I must scream.
Ford Uses Obedient Robot Dogs To Update Facilities Maps
'If he sent out two or three of the small tele-operated devices... [he] could see machinery and construction details in real time from both above and below.'
AirTouch Panels Means No More Dirty Touchscreens!
Useful interfaces now appear in thin air.
EllipticaRunner Robot Is Fast, Amazing, Slightly Worrisome
'THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail in New Delhi...'
SPECTER Electroshock Round Fireable From Shotgun
'...the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little
cases of glass.'
100 Terabyte Exadrive SSD Also Has Biggest Price
'A man could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres in a Schrön loop.'
Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.'
Feel Virtual Reality In Mid-Air!
'...a pressure on the lips - warm and soft, moist and sweet.'
Electric Lasso Gives Police Options
'The blast of silver threads enveloped her...'
TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'
Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'
Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories