AI Gets a Brain [Amazon Mechanical Turk]: "In 1769, Wolfgang von Kempelen built an automaton that defeated many human opponents at chess. Known as 'The Turk,' the wooden mannequin toured the United States and Europe for many years, defeating such famous challengers as Benjamin Franklin, Napolean Bonaparte, and Edgar Allen Poe. The secret to the automaton was, of course, a human chess master hidden inside. Like its namesake, Amazon's Mechanical Turk presents a mechanical front to conceal, or abstract, the human processing power and intelligence hidden inside. Developers can 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. This allows software developers to easily and economically build programs that tap into a worldwide, massively parallel, Internet-scale human workforce on an incremental, as-needed basis."
Great article by two Amazon.com technologists.