Human Intelligence Finds A Niche in Robo-Economy

Garrett Wilkin
Oct. 03 2012, 08:00AM EDT

Are you a human or do you know someone who is?  Then I have great news for you!  You are still relevant in today's economy.  Sure, artificial intelligence has grown by leaps and bounds.  Robots can beat us at chess and even Jeopardy!  But it turns out that there's still a place for good ol' meat-brains like you and me to add value: the Shared Workforce API.

Shared Workforce has created another system that puts human intelligence at the core of a REST API.  Make an API call which describes a simple task, like removing profanity from comments or applying tags to an image, and in just a few minutes you'll get one or more responses.  Isn't that what things like neural nets are for, you ask? Sure, but where's your sense of nostalgia?  Have you really become so cold and calculating that you no longer trust the judgement of your human?

You can get up and running quickly with the Shared Workforce RubyGem, if you're into that kind of thing.  Otherwise it's roll your own REST client, but at least the documentation is clear, simple, and short.  I still have two looming questions though:

  1. What's to keep someone from sniffing your API key out of the HTTP header?
  2. How much does it cost to get a response to a task?

If you're interested in crowdsourcing and humans working at the beck and call of robots, you might like my round up from a year ago: The Programmable Employer.  We've got a few dozen crowdsourcing APIs in the index if you'd like to browse a few similar players.

Garrett Wilkin

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Thanks for the article. Good point about the API key. If you use https for the API endpoint, the API key will be encrypted. I've updated the docs to clarify this.

I should mention there's also an add-on available for Heroku users,

Pricing? At the moment it's $0.03 per response, for tasks that take 10 seconds or less.

[...] Human Intelligence Finds A Niche in Robo-Economy Shared Workforce Are you a human or do you know someone who is? Then I have great news for you! You are still relevant in today&#39;s economy. Sure, artificial intelligence has grown by leaps and bounds. Robots can beat us at chess and even Jeopardy! Read more on ProgrammableWeb (blog) [...]