The Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing internet marketplace that enables individuals and businesses (known as Requesters) to coordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are currently unable to do. Requesters are able to post tasks known as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), such as choosing the best among several photographs of a storefront, writing product descriptions, or identifying performers on music CDs. Workers (called Providers in Mechanical Turk’s Terms of Service, or, more colloquially, Turkers) can then browse among existing tasks and complete them for a monetary payment set by the Requester.
The name Mechanical Turk comes from “The Turk“, a chess-playing automaton of the 18th century, which was made by Wolfgang von Kempelen. Workers set their own hours and are not under any obligation to accept any work they do not wish to do. Because workers are paid as contractors rather than employees, requesters do not have to file forms for, nor pay payroll taxes, and they avoid laws regarding minimum wage, overtime, and workers compensation. Workers, though, must report their income as self-employment income. The average wage for the multiple microtasks assigned, if they are done quickly, is about one dollar an hour, with each task averaging a few cents.
If you would like to read more, go to Amazon Mechanical Turk on Wikipedia for a description, and if you want to check out the site, it’s at Amazon Mechanical Turk Artificial Artificial Intelligence.