Workers of the world, get ready to meet your robot supervisors. A new service called Humanoid wants to turn you into a “robot-supervised army” that it will rent out for $5 an hour. It already has 20,000 workers lined up for today’s launch.
Humanoid comes out of a startup called Speakertext, which uses a mixture of automated techniques and crowdsourced labor to transcribe online videos (we use Speakertext for TCTV). Speakertext will continue as a product of Humanoid, which is shifting focus to helping companies with their software development. Google Ventures is putting in a few hundred thousand dollars in another seed round (the company raised $600,000 in February from Mitch Kapor and others).
The founders tried to build Speakertext on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, but for every $1 it was spending on the crowdsourced marketplace, it was spending $2 to fix the errors. It tried everything, including hiring interns, temps, TaskRabitters and ODeskers. Finally, they wrote their own workforce management technology to oversee its army of transcribers, and that became the foundation of Humanoid.
Humanoid starts with getting workers to review each other’s work and then augmenting that with bots that assign each worker a reputation. It also looks at statistics such as accuracy of completed tasks and indicators of developer fatigue. The bots even throw in errors to test workers. If someone is not up to snuff, they route the task to someone else.
Some of these workers come from Mechanical turk, some come from other crowdsourced marketplaces. What Humanoid does is it puts an automated workforce management layer on top of these tasks and allows software developers to add human intelligence into their apps (supervised, of course).
Give it a try, and welcome our software robot overlords.