Opacity and Crowd work

This new study by researchers at Cornell shows how Turkers can help design how a robot could make us coffee.

Through the Amazon Mechanical Turk service, where people can be recruited to do simple online tasks for small payments, they invited hundreds of visitors to guide a robot through the motions to perform various tasks described in a set of printed instructions. To make crowdsourcing possible, the researchers created a Web interface that enables a user to guide an imaginary robot arm, almost like playing a video game.
From the database the robot also learns to identify various kinds of controls by their shape rather than location, and to relate them to the various labels that might be used in the instructions.

Note to the author of the article: all the tasks aren’t simple and all the payments shouldn’t be small.

OK back to our regularly scheduled critique. The challenge with this is that Turkers don’t see the ‘big picture’ as to how their work contributes to the greater good…and that can be a problem for keeping workers connected, involved and enthusiastic. Critique over.

Now I need a coffee, made by a human please.

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