After last Economics class, I became convinced that we will still discuss artificial and human intelligence many times during this master’s program and perhaps afterwards. Mike Culver, from Amazon Services, was our speaker yesterday and among other things, he talked about the Amazon Mechanical Turk.
The website gives “businesses and developers access to an on-demand, scalable workforce”, as its definition on the first page. Trivial tasks are published on the website (ex: to draw a sheep) and people get paid a small amount of money (ex: $0.02) to accomplish these little jobs. According to Culver, there are people making real money from it. Nowadays, there are at least 200 thousand registered workers from more than 100 countries. Culver also explained that these jobs are called Hits (Human Intelligence Tasks) because even though they are simple functions they can’t be done by computers.
I was amazed by the number of people working on Mechanical Turk and I became curious about which part of the world they are from. Culver only mentioned that users have different backgrounds and different motivations to participate. However, I believe it is more likely these jobs are an alternative income for the “turkers”, who work very hard in different tasks. It would be interesting to know if there is a relationship between the number of participants per country, technology penetration in these places, and income distribution.