Blog Post

Mechanical Turk


Mechanical Turk: Mechanical turk refers to an online crowdsourcing marketplace run by Amazon. This program allows you to hire humans to perform simple tasks that computers are currently unable to do. Workers, typically called Providers or Turkers, often write product descriptions, identify performers on music CDs, choose the best among several photos, and perform other basic exercises. The service was originally created by Peter Cohen as a way to find duplicate product descriptions.

The name "mechanical turk" comes from a chess-playing automaton known as "the Turk", which toured 18th century Europe. Built by Wolfgang von Kempelen, the machine defeated Napoleon Bonaparte, Benjamin Franklin, and countless others before it was revealed not to be a machine at all: instead, a chess master was hidden in a special compartment and controlled its motions. Like "the Turk", Amazon's Mechanical Turk allows internet users to help computers complete tasks they would be otherwise unable to perform. The typical wage rate is about $1 an hour, with each task worth a few cents. The work does not qualify for minimum wage standards, overtime, worker's compensation, and more. Workers are considered contractors and must report any income they make as self-employment income.