Harnessing Human Computation in the Real World
I've had the great pleasure of spending some time with the UID Group at MIT CSAIL.
They're thinking a lot about harnessing Mechanical Turk to complete a variety of tasks, and how MT might be integrated seamlessly into software - what if calling on a turker was a simple as calling a function? What would that look like and what could you do with it?
For a while, I've been toying with the idea of using MT to help blind people not with improving web accessibility, but with everyday, real-world tasks. One simple application might, for instance, help blind people find objects that they've lost.
A big question is how quickly we could get Turkers to answer a question like that. As a first step, I ran a small experiment in which I asked turkers to click on some duct tape in a picture.
The Results are posted here. In summary, we got 10 turkers to click on the duct tape in the picture correctly for just 1 cent each. We got the first answer after 90 seconds, and had all 10 in a little over 3 minutes. Very encouraging results for realtime human computation being practical and affordable!
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