Mechanical Turk and Steve Fossett

I hadn’t heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk before today and it’s use to try to find Steve Fossett.

Amazon’s definition is « we build complex software applications based on the things computers do well, such as storing and retrieving large amounts of information or rapidly performing calculations. However, humans still significantly outperform the most powerful computers at completing such simple tasks as identifying objects in photographs—something children can do even before they learn to speak.

When we think of interfaces between human beings and computers, we usually assume that the human being is the one requesting that a task be completed, and the computer is completing the task and providing the results. What if this process were reversed and a computer program could ask a human being to perform a task and return the results? What if it could coordinate many human beings to perform a task? »

But the fun stuff is where the name comes from « In 1769, Hungarian nobleman Wolfgang von Kempelen astonished Europe by building a mechanical chess-playing automaton that defeated nearly every opponent it faced. A life-sized wooden mannequin, adorned with a fur-trimmed robe and a turban, Kempelen’s « Turk » was seated behind a cabinet and toured Europe confounding such brilliant challengers as Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte. To persuade skeptical audiences, Kempelen would slide open the cabinet’s doors to reveal the intricate set of gears, cogs and springs that powered his invention. He convinced them that he had built a machine that made decisions using artificial intelligence. What they did not know was the secret behind the Mechanical Turk: a human chess master cleverly concealed inside. »

Turk was launched in 2005 with much hype (well not so much as I didn’t hear about it) but it seems that the system didn’t live his hype up. Nonetheless, for a few days now, one of the HIT (Human Intelligent Task) has been set up to Help Find Steve Fosset.

How does it work?
You will be shown a single satellite image. The task is to flag any satellite images which contain foreign objects that may resemble Steve’s airplane or parts of a plane. Steve’s plane will show up as a regular object with sharp edges, white or nearly white, about 21 pixels long and 30 pixels in wingspan.

Marked images will be sent to a team of specialists who will determine if they contain information on the whereabouts of Steve Fossett.

Sample Imagery

image image
Example of the size of object to look for. The white plane shown above (30 pixel wingspan by 21 pixels by length) is approximately the size of Steve’s plane. Example of two cars next to a highway/road.

You can also check the area on GoogleEarth (38.430862,-119.442673), but first, you have to get Steve Fossett KML file.


Un commentaire sur “Mechanical Turk and Steve Fossett

  1. Je comprends pas pourquoi les gens cherchent son avion, c’ets peut etre plus malin de chercher son héritage non ?

    Bon je viens de me taper 10 épisodes de Prison Break en suivant sur Betv (intégrale de la saison 2 toute la journée) alors ca doit etre pour ca ..

    Ou alors Steve avait aussi un sac a dos avec 5M$ dans son avion ..

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