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I was checking out my Amazon account one day when I came across a blurb for their “Mechanical Turk” service, at .  It's built for what they call Human Intelligence Tasks (“HITs“), which computers can't do reliably yet.  Tasks like comparing two photos to see if they're the same person, reading two product descriptions to verify if they're the same product, or summarizing a podcast in 200 words or less.

You can even register (using your normal Amazon account) to take on some of these tasks.  Each of them comes with a fee, ranging from $0.01 to maybe $5.  When you answer a HIT, and the owner accepts your answer, you get the fee credited to your Amazon account.  I myself have made 5 cents doing it.

The neat thing is that (apparently; I haven't tried it) you can download an API to submit these HITs for answering.  In fact, Amazon seems to prefer this way of entering them.  I imagine this would be an interesting way to use request-response in a long-running transaction for a messaging platform like BizTalk.

 Has anyone tried this?

Posted on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 5:55 PM | Back to top

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