If you think your current boss is a drag, imagine being directed by a piece of software.
Christopher Mims 02/07/2011
Why hire a knowledge worker when a swarm of low-skilled laborers will do?
An experiment being conducted by an alliance of journalists and computer scientists aims to combine the distributed human brainpower of Amazon’s small-task outsourcing engine, Mechanical Turk, with a software boss pre-programmed with all the logic required to stitch myriad discrete human-accomplished tasks into something resembling the work of a single person.
The project is called My Boss is a Robot, and the boffins involved include the team of Niki Kittur, a Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of Human Computer Interaction, as well as freelance science and technology writers Jim Giles and MacGregor Campbell.
The idea is simple: computer scientists have already used Mechanical Turk to create a simple encyclopedia entry about New York City. The entire process was overseen by software, not humans, and included everything from asking Turkers (as the distributed workers on Mechanical Turk are called) to come up with the topic areas the entry should cover to having them fact-check the writing of previous workers to whom those topics had been assigned.