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As noted by Slashdot, Amazon.com was on March 27 granted a broad patent for computer systems that incorporate human beings into automated data processing - the type of cybernetic arrangement that underpins the company's Mechanical Turk service. With Mechanical Turk, a software programmer can write into a program a task that is difficult for a computer to do but easy for a person to carry out, such as identifying objects in photographs. At the point in the program when the "human input" is required, the task is posted to Amazon's Mechanical Turk website where people carry it out for a small payment. The human input is then funneled back to the computer running the program.