Dubbed the Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s new answer service is a question and answer machine (well, mechanism, at least) that allows you to get answers to questions – and not just about books or technology! Much like the service for questions and answers Yahoo once offered, or google answers, Amazon’s answer service is for general knowledge questions and answers – the kind that a computer can’t just answer. That’s because there are humans behind it – humans who will answer questions to just about anything. And if you’d like to apply to get paid to answer questions, then you can get paid to answer questions too! Note that while the Yahoo answer service is still available, Google answers has gone away.
The term “mechanical Turk” is a reference to a 16th century “artificial intelligence” chess playing machine called the Turk, which actually had a human chess master hidden within.
The concept, as Amazon explains it, is that “Humans are much more effective than computers at solving some types of problems, like finding specific objects in pictures, evaluating beauty, or translating text…. the Amazon Mechanical Turk web service solves the problem of getting work done in a cost-effective manner by people who have the skill to do the work.”
Questions you ask the Amazon Mechanical Turk question and answer machine are called “HITs” (Human Intelligence Task), and you create HITs through a simple form. You create your question, and then say how much you are willing to pay for the answer – you can accept an answer from just one person, or from several.
So, what sorts of questions might you ask the Amazon Mechanical Turk? Questions currently up on the Amazon Mechanical Turk include:
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“Tell us which articles are relevant to a given company, and which are not.”
“Find the email address of the owner / manager of a gym.”
“Choose a picture for a product.”
“Evaluate results of this search.”
Want to get paid to answer questions? Amazon goes on to explain that “For people who want to earn money in their spare time, the Amazon Mechanical Turk web site solves the problem of finding work that they can do wherever and whenever they want.”
That said, HITs can cost mere cents, which suggests that those answering the HITs may be primarily in countries other than the U.S..
One very interesting thing about the Amazon Mechanical Turk is that there is an API for the system, so that you can interface with it and create an automated system for getting your own tasks answered and addressed!
Want to learn more? Check out the Amazon Mechanical Turk here.
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