Interesting use of Amazon's Mechanical Turk

FossettHelp search for Steve Fossett with with Amazon's Mechanical Turk.  I've played with it a few times (and have all of $0.57 accumulated), and it is usually a slog through pictures, attempting to identify addresses or locations from a sequence of photos.  This particular "hit" feels more valuable. 

The idea behind Mechanical Turk is to submit repetitive, detailed, human work to hundreds or thousands of people who are willing to spend a few minutes or an hour of their time doing the analysis.  It might take one person days or weeks to go through all the work, but by distributing the load, it can get done either quicker or with more redundancy.

In this case, they have nearly 60,000 recent satellite images of the area in which Fossett and his plane were last known.  The task is to view as many images as you wish and look for any plane-shaped objects you might see.  I scanned through 50 or 60: Most of the images look like the one I've included here: a green field, maybe with roads or trees or a stream.

2 Comment(s)

Brett said:


NPR ran a story on Morning Edition today, gave a good background of how this whole setup came together. Well worth a listen.

What struck me most was not that this was being done for a specific purpose, but that something like this could be pulled together so quickly, among so many different companies. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you really set your mind to it.

jackvinson Author Profile Page said:

Yes. I got email from Amazon hinting at the "amazing effort" that culminated in this service. I saw something in the Tribune yesterday that they've discovered six other (potential) plane wrecks in the process already.

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