These are my notes from the Artificial, Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and What It Means for the Web by L. F. (Felipe) Cabrera, Ph.D.

This was a talk about Amazon's Mechanical Turk. The session began with the original story of the mechanical turk which was a hoax perpertrated in 1769 by Wolfgang von Kempelen. The original mechanical turk was a chess playing automaton that turned out to be a powered by a dimunitive human chess master as opposed to 'artificial intelligence'. In a sense it was artificial artificial intelligence.

There are lots of questions computers can answer for Amazon's customers such as "where is my order?" or "what would you recommend for me based on my music/book tastes?" but there are others it cannot. However there are other questions a computer can't answer well today such as "is this a picture of a chair or a table?". Amazon's Mechanical Turk provides a set of web APIs that enable developers harness human intelligence to answer questions that cannot be answered by computers. The service has grown moderately popular and now has about 23,000 people who answer questions asked via the API.

The service offers benefits to developers by giving them a chance to enhance their applications with knowledge computers can't provide, to businesses by offering them new ways to solve business problems and to end users who can make money by answering questions asked via the API.

Examples of businesses which have used the API include a translation service that uses the API to check the accuracy of translations, polling companies testing opinion polls and purchasers of search advertising testing which search keywords best match their ads.