Sunday, November 20, 2005

Amazon's Mechanical Turk

In the 18th century, the mechanical turk was invented. It was a chess playing automaton. How it worked is unknown. Supposedly, you put in a move and it responded. Beneath the chesboard gears drove shafts and the Turk would lurk forward and move the right piece to the best position. Rumor had it that is squared off against Napolean Bonparte and bested him.
Amazon a third millenium spin on the Turk. Humans do way better at fuzzy recognition than machines. What machines need to do is learn. Give them neural net weighting and a capacity to retain that knowledge and they can learn.
Today, 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. However, 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? What if it could coordinate many human beings to perform a task?
Amazon Mechanical Turk does this, providing a web services API for computers to integrate Artificial Artificial Intelligence directly into their processing. Learn more about this new web service on their web site:
http://www.amazon.com/...node=15879911
(of course, if I remember the Matrix, that's how they ended up in their situation)

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