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Amazon finally reveals itself as the Matrix

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Amazon’s new Mechanical Turk product is brilliant because it will help application developers overcome certain types of problems (resulting in the possibility for new kinds of applications) and somewhat scary because I can’t get the Matrix-we-are-all-plugged-into-a-machine vision out of my head.

The “machine” is a web service that Amazon is calling “artificial artificial intelligence.” If you need a process completed that only humans can do given current technology (judgment calls, text drafting or editing, etc.), you can simply make a request to the service to complete the process. The machine will then complete the task with volunteers, and return the results to your software.

Volunteers are paid different amounts for each task, and money earned is deposited into their Amazon accounts. Amazon keeps a 10% margin on what the requester pays.

Today, we build complex software applications based on the things computers do well, such as storing and retrieving large amounts of information or rapidly performing calculations. However, humans still significantly outperform the most powerful computers at completing such simple tasks as identifying objects in photographs – something children can do even before they learn to speak.

When we think of interfaces between human beings and computers, we usually assume that the human being is the one requesting that a task be completed, and the computer is completing the task and providing the results. What if this process were reversed and a computer program could ask a human being to perform a task and return the results? What if it could coordinate many human beings to perform a task?

Amazon Mechanical Turk provides a web services API for computers to integrate Artificial Artificial Intelligence directly into their processing by making requests of humans. Developers use the Amazon Mechanical Turk web services API to submit tasks to the Amazon Mechanical Turk web site, approve completed tasks, and incorporate the answers into their software applications. To the application, the transaction looks very much like any remote procedure call – the application sends the request, and the service returns the results. In reality, a network of humans fuels this Artificial Artificial Intelligence by coming to the web site, searching for and completing tasks, and receiving payment for their work.

All software developers need to do is write normal code. The pseudo code below illustrates how simple this can be.

read (photo);
photoContainsHuman = callMechanicalTurk(photo);
if (photoContainsHuman == TRUE){
acceptPhoto;
}
else {
rejectPhoto;
}

The name “Mechanical Turk” is a great one because it refers to a machine built in the 18th century that played chess against real people and beat them regularly. However, nearly a hundred years later it was finally revealed that the machine was in fact powered by a human being hidden inside of it. I actually read a book about the machine earlier this year – I was on a business trip and it was all I could find.

There are an enormous number of tasks that this can be used for. So plug in to the Matrix Machine and give it a try.

More on this from Rob Hof, Greg Yardley and others.

  • http://www.anvilon.com/ Eric Hammond

    Speaking of databases on EBS, I’ve written a tutorial which walks through basic steps to run MySQL on Amazon’s Elastic Block Store, including snapshot backup and restore:

    http://developer.amazonwebservices.com/connect/entry.jspa?categoryID=100&externalID=1663

  • http://me2day.net/ironyjk/2008/08/21#21:55:37 ironyjk's me2DAY

    iron의 느낌…

    Amazon Launches EBS – Persistant Storage for EC2…

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/21/amazon-boosts-storage-features-in-ec2/ Amazon Boosts Storage Features In EC2

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT. […]

  • http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/redirect?source=rss&url=http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/08/21/Amazon_launches_EC2_cloud_storage_1.html Amazon launches persistent EC2 cloud storage | InfoWorld | News | 2008-08-21 | By Heather Havenstein, Computerworld

    […] Cubrilovic, a blogger for TechCrunchIT, noted that persistent block-level storage for EC2 is long overdue […]

  • http://www.chaow.info/2008/08/22/amazon-%e0%b9%80%e0%b8%9b%e0%b8%b4%e0%b8%94-elastic-block-store-%e0%b8%9e%e0%b8%b7%e0%b9%89%e0%b8%99%e0%b8%97%e0%b8%b5%e0%b9%88%e0%b9%80%e0%b8%81%e0%b9%87%e0%b8%9a%e0% Chaow Blog - Amazon เปิด Elastic Block Store พื้นที่เก็บข้อมูลสำหรับ EC2

    […] ที่มา – TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://www.aleyram.com/forum/amazon-boosts-storage-features-in-ec2.html Amazon Boosts Storage Features In EC2 | SesliChat Sesli Sohbet

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT. […]

  • http://blog.christianebuddy.com/amazon-boosts-storage-features-in-ec2/ Amazon Boosts Storage Features In EC2 | Christian eBuddy Blog

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT. […]

  • http://ordaso.com/amazon-boosts-storage-features-in-ec2/ Amazon Boosts Storage Features In EC2 | Semantic Web Reviews

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT. […]

  • http://ordaso.com/amazon-launches-persistent-ec2-cloud-storage/ Amazon launches persistent EC2 cloud storage | Semantic Web Reviews

    […] Cubrilovic, a blogger for TechCrunchIT, noted that persistent block-level storage for EC2 is long overdue […]

  • http://warlocksoftware.blogspot.com JD Wilson

    MSPs are realizing that the lower cost of cloud computing frees up their SMB customer’s budgets to actually invest in making some progress toward meeting business objectives like disaster recovery and business continuity. The EBS announcement is huge because MSPs can go to products like WarLock DR+ to build their own practice with zero risk and no up front costs. Monthly expenses are lower because the SMB pays directly for the cloud computing (HaaS) and the MSP provides the application (SaaS) and then gets to keep 100% of the profit for their expertise and monitoring moving forward.

  • http://robrohan.com/2009/04/03/ec2-qanda/ EC2 QandA | Times New Rohan

    […] by reassigning the IP to a new running instance… Anyway, I think you might want to read up on EBSs because it sounds like will alleviate a lot of your […]

  • Trent Stevens

    Open Platform as a Service http://www.openplatformasaservice.com will be make Amazon Web Service the ultimate way for developers to deliver their web applications

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