by Mike Masnick

Amazon Looking For Cheap Human Brain Power

from the paying-pennies! dept

Amazon surprised a lot of people a few years ago when they decided to jump into the search space with A9. However, it looks like they might not be done copying Google ideas (and, to be fair, Google copied Amazon's book scanning stuff). The latest, according to Metafilter and Google Blogoscoped is that Amazon has launched the Amazon Mechanical Turk. The name is a reference to the famous hoax mechanical chess player from the 18th century that was actually controlled by a hidden chess master. In this case, it sounds like a modification of Google Answers, which has been around for years. Basically, if you have a specific task that isn't easily automated, you ask people to do it for you, at a set price. At the moment of this posting, it looks like the few tasks available are simply Amazon looking for extremely cheap labor in writing product descriptions or picking the "best" photo for A9's blockview system. Still, these types of business models always intrigue me. For all the talk of automation, there are always points at which the automation breaks down and a human is needed. It's that concept that helps those of us at Techdirt make a living, by recognizing that sometimes you really do need a human expert layer to make sense of all the junk that automated systems give you, creating way too much information overload. Of course, Amazon isn't the only company to look to human power to solve problems. Just a few days ago, a mobile search engine launched that would use voice recognition as much as possible, but then defaults back to human help to handle the rest. Update: There have been some questions about how real the Mechanical Turk is, and whether it's really associated with Amazon. The comments at Metafilter seem to indicate that it is real, but sometimes it's tough to tell. It's not April 1, is it?

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  1. identicon
    ahoy, 4 Nov 2005 @ 5:58am

    It's real

    It's real. Following through on accepting a task leads you to a secure Amazon.com page. See for yourself, just accept a task

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Denis, 4 Nov 2005 @ 6:57am

    No Subject Given

    Also, more info is available on Amazon Web Services website: http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html/102-8739644-0916163?node=3435361

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mike, 4 Nov 2005 @ 7:08am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Also, you get like 3 cents a task. It must be real.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    dorpus, 4 Nov 2005 @ 8:58am

    Google This

    When I grow up I wanna be a suicide bomber...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2005 @ 12:24pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Yeah, WOW. So if I were to somehow bust out tons of these things a day, I'd still probably only be getting paid minimum wage or less.

    But I suppose they may get help from poor countries or people who live cheaply just to be able to work at home.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    anomalous, 4 Nov 2005 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Google This

    too late; you suicidally bomb every day here...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    ez, 1 May 2006 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Re: No Subject Given

    Yeah, only problem is in poor countries there are no computers or internet. So what they do is turn this country into a poor country (by means of various parasitic agents) then we will happily do the work (because no one will have a real job).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    prajnan bhattacharya, 9 May 2007 @ 6:29am

    Amazon Turk

    I was reading Times of India today...I was surprised to know that one faculty member of reputed varsity in India has earned sveral US Dollars just by spending few hoyurs in the site and making very little contribution
    It was an eye opener, in fact, who won't be willing to earn few aDollar!
    I am an Indian and stay in Delhi, the national Capital.
    We spentr lot of time regularly on internet...why not make some contribution and earn a bit as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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