Monday, November 07, 2005

Mechanical Turk Can Make You Rich!!!!!!!!!

So there's this new Mechanical Turk program from Amazon that has a bit of a buzz going. Here's how it works:

1. Software developers and others put up repetitive tasks that require almost no skill such as looking at pictures and telling if there is a blue car in the snapshot. Because a computer can't do this, someone has to, so that someone could be you. So far, the employers pay around 3 cents per "HIT" -- in my example, each picture you look at and correctly identify the presence of a blue car is a "HIT" that will net you three cents.

2. You get an hour to do as many as you can, at least to start. If you're really quick, you might make $5-7 in that hour, but you'll be working your buns off.

3. You die of boredom, or exhaustion, or a lethal mix of both.

For people unable to move because they weigh 700 pounds, this might be a good program. They can earn some money while not having to move (which they can't), so it's better than a job that requires them to move (which they can't). Otherwise, the program looks like it will work well only for people who are too stupid to do the math in their heads and figure out just how hard they would have to work to make even minimum wage.

And, of course it could work well for Amazon, who gets a cut somewhere in there.

Capitalism is an awesome thing. Throw in the words "artificial intelligence" and "make money" and you can get everyone over the age of two to wet their pants in amazement. (Those under two are wetting their pants as well, but they always do that.)

@ Rough Type: "Amazon's Mechanical Turk uses the capacity explicitly, turning people into a "human layer" in software." (And God knows we've all wanted to be software at one time or another, yes?)

@ The Speculist: "I knew it was just a matter of time before lazy, spoiled computers started palming work off on us. If I've said it once, I've said it a dozen times: this is what happens when you coddle them."

@ Squelly: "I could make between $4.50 and $5.00 an hour. w00t! So what’s the point? Why waste my time for near third-world wage? The tasks HAVE to come up in price/value for it to be worthwhile. It could be. Amazon COULD be the envelope-stuffing-work-from-home alternative for the unskilled with a computer…. ‘Cause there must be millions of thse folks waiting around."