Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mechanical Turk and Missing Millionaire

Alright, I'll admit that I'm usually behind on US news, being in England. Most of it doesn't even make it over, which is fine with me. (Although Larry Craig's airport hijinks was a pretty fast-moving story.)

So there is a missing aviator someplace over Nevada, or thereabouts. I knew that, but didn't pay it much attention.

However, Amazon runs something called the Mechanical Turk (a name which has its own interesting backstory) which is essentially a service which matches up assigned tasks with people willing to earn a few cents to a few bucks. It's usually things like doing video transcriptions, making some fake forum posts, etc.

Sometimes, the assignment is to respond to a photo or make an identification in some way, to help make AI smarter.

Today a new assignment popped up on the Mechanical Turk. Using current satellite footage, thousands of users are to scour images of the Nevada wasteland (around the Fossett's last known location) to try and find some trace of him. They can flag any given image to have it sent to a second-level investigation.

That was just mind-blowing to me. How incredibly awesome. See, that is some good use of technology.

As a strange kind of follow-up, no one has found him yet, but they've found a couple other wrecks.


Rocketstar said...

What I don't get about Foss is Why? Yes i understand that circling the globe in a hot air balloon is HARD, but why?

With all of his $, isn't there something better he could spend it on? Space exploration, scientific research etc...

THE DUCK said...

Wow, that's fascinating. I hadn't heard of this. I agree that it is actually a good use of technology for once. Although the new iPod Touch is also an earth-shattering achievement... ;)

THE DUCK said...

Oh, and give a warm welcome to Ms. Amanda everybody!

Anonymous said...

That is so cool! I have never heard of that before. I looked for Fossett 67 times, and nada. It really is a wasteland! Then, I thought about doing some transcription work for 12 cents. I listened to what they wanted transcribed and decided I would rahter PAY not to do that. LOL

Amanda said...

Yeah, a lot of the MT tasks are pretty terrible!

Duck, you and your ipods...

Oops, I forgot to put tags on my post. Guess I will edit that now!

angel, jr. said...

Hi Amanda!!
Mechanical Turk huh? Sounds interesting.

cher said...

absolutely great use of technology...
hi amanda!

haha-emily-pay to NOT do that...haha

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