The humans behind Mechanical Turk’s artificial intelligence

Mechanical Turk takes its name from a chess-playing machine developed as a parlour trick in the Austrian imperial court in the 18th century © Interfoto/Alamy Manish Bhatia, a 29-year-old IT worker in New Delhi, recently married. To make some extra cash to support his new lifestyle, he knows where to turn: completing tasks on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace for chores that are done by people sitting in front of a computer. Mechanical Turk is often touted as “artificial artificial intelligence”, or a “human cloud”. The platform has been around for more than a decade, but the types of tasks are changing as computers become smarter. Now, the workers on the human cloud are helping to train computers, which are refining their own artificial intelligence capabilities to become more…

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