July 11, 2007
Futurologists - that is, people who have the nerve to believe that they can predict what life will be like more than a week from now (and my only prediction about the future is that, 10 years from now it'll be much harder to predict what life will be like in the future) - have been harping on about a new trend for using human intelligence within computerized workflows (along the lines of the "Hot or Not" algorithm that has kept a generation of idiots entertained).
Their logic is clear - humans are much better at spotting patterns in complexity than computers are. So, when faced with an especially fiddly problem of - say - classification, where the computer just isn't up to the job, why not ask a real, live person?
Indeed, why not ask a million of them and do a bit of statistical jiggery-pokery to come up with the optimum answer?
So we're hearing predictions of how such non-computable computing tasks might be embedded in online environments - possibly disguised as games or puzzles - so that (possibly unwitting) users can donate a few cycles of their very considerable brain power to these kinds of problems.
Frankly, I find it just a little sinister. I can see the day when I waste hours on Second Life playing "fun games", when I'm actually working - for free - for some faceless corporation somewhere, or worse still - the military! (I would rather eat my own arse than work for the military.)
But it can have some benign applications, I have to concede. And this is one of them. Take a trip to the Galaxy Zoo and help astronomers classify a million galaxies.
Posted 1 week ago on July 11, 2007