Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Artifical Artificial Intelligence

The Turk was an amazing device, built in the 1800's it was used to demonstrate to Royalty how clever a machine could be by playing chess against a human. The Turk was later exposed as a hoax, when it was revealed that there was actually a human inside it. (Note: It was not until Deep Blue that a real computer beat a chess champion 1997)

No matter how you define artificial intelligence (The Turing Test probably being the most well know), there is no case as yet of its official existence. However, what if you could ask a website a complex question or ask it for a task to be performed and get the results within minutes? What if you could ask the equivalent of a modern-day intelligent machine?

It sounds pretty amazing and it is. But its not computer effort that's primarily being used in Amazon's Mechanical Turk, its human effort. This service, run by Amazon uses a crowdsourcing method to send requests to a number of people and to have the results paid for only if the answers are correct / good enough. These Human Intelligence Tasks (HIT's) trade people's time & effort for a small reward. In fact I've heard of several night-shift security guards in the UK who have topped up thier earnings whilst keeping people safe in their beds at night.

So how does this help a company?

Well, it gives you access to a global workforce, instantly. From transcribing audio files (e.g. podcasts or CEO speaches to make them accessible), to writing reviews for local services(perhaps something Yelp should take note of), this uses the long tail of resourcing.

All I now need it to do is ask it to how to play chess......
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