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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation. - Arthur C. Clarke, 1956.

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...' - Kendall Foster Crossen, 1953.

Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?' - JG Ballard, 1971.

Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible
'Palenkis can identify random line patterns better than any other species in the universe.' - Frank Herbert, 1969.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.

Kazahk Ironist Protester Arrested For Blank Sign Protest
'...a man carried a white rectangular sign, blank on both sides.'

Bitcoin Surges Again, To $7,000
'... electronic, private cash, unbacked by any government, untraceable, completely anonymous.'

China Develops Taste Testing Robots
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'

North Sea Stone Age Reconstruction And Philip K Dick
'Your Dip digs back into antiquity. Rome. Greece. Dust and old volumes.'

Tesla Robotaxis Will Automatically Recharge Themselves
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'

New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.'

Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD
'Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work...'

Elon Musk Foretells Tesla Sans Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel... I don't need one.'

Adversarial Patches Trick Computer Vision
'The surveillance cameras can all see it, but then they forget they’ve seen it.'

Amazon Warehouse Computer Can Fire People Now
'The system has already fired five people...'

BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.