Cloud computing has solved a lot of modern technological problems. The latest innovation in the field of cloud computing has been brought about by Amazon. The revolutionary Amazon web service called is called Amazon Mechanical Turk. It has gained immense popularity as a crowdsourcing marketplace for human talent.
What is Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Amazon Mechanical Turk, simply known as Amazon MTurk is an online, scalable marketplace for a skilled human workforce. It provides jobs and opportunities for tasks that can be completed by humans better than computers. It works based on allotting two parties, namely, the requesters and the workers.
Amazon Mechanical Turk in India provides a fair platform of employment for individuals who opt for piecemeal work as per their convenience. A variety of jobs can be enlisted on this cloud computing platform. It particularly includes tasks needing human intervention. This can refer to jobs such as translation, content creation, scrutinizing videos for particular content, et cetera.
The jobs posted on the MTurk platform are often termed as Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs). To post jobs, requesting programs make use of an open application programming interface (API). The more limited-scope site called MTurk Requester is also used.
A brief history of MTurk
The origin of Amazon MTurk lies in the US patent filed by Venky Harinarayan back in 2001. The initial draft of the Amazon MTurk was known as “artificial artificial intelligence”. Amazon CEO is considered to be the mastermind behind this concept. The system’s aim was to identify and outsource projects that could be completed faster and more successfully by humans than digital systems.
The name MTurk has an interesting history. It was named after the seeming automaton “The Turk” developed by Wolfgang von Kempelen for playing chess back in the 18th century. On further investigation, it was discovered that the chess-playing system was not automated, but was actually operated by a seasoned chess master concealed in a cabinet beneath the board. So, it proves that certain tasks thrive on human intervention.
The Amazon Mechanical Turk worker registration system was officially launched in November 2005. From thereon, the company grew in leaps and bounds. It saw hundreds of thousands of workers enlist for online piecemeal jobs. As of 2011, there were employees from nearly 190 countries registered with the system. However, the country of origin of job requesters has been brought under regulation in recent years. In 2019, it was determined that parties from only 49 pre-registered countries can enlist their projects on the MTurk server.
Features of Amazon MTurk
Amazon Mechanical Turk 2020 thrives on being one of the best web services in the business. It stands out in the market because of the following unique features:
- Available workforce as per your needs: The Amazon Mechanical Turk system allows you to access an on-demand virtual group of workers. This workers’ community possess the skills required for your tasks and are just a few clicks away.
- Ease of remote working: This has gained greater importance in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows for a greater degree of remote working. A requester can simply offer up a job online for a stipulated sum of money. Anybody who possesses the required skills can apply. These jobs are specifically meant for being performed using the computer.
- Accuracy and quality of work: Amazon MTurk allows the requesters to ensure high-quality work. So, a requester can test his or her project in the Amazon Mechanical Turk sandbox. The revised job can be published for the workers.
This intelligent service makes command-line tools and SDKs available so that better solutions can be built. When it comes to the legal standpoint of MTurk, it has often been compared to contracted labor. As per US Labor Law, it is possible for workers on this platform to file lawsuits, if need be.
Legal action can be taken in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act for wage theft. This bears resemblance to the way contractual labor can fight for their wage rights. So, even though the MTurk workers are not payroll employees of Amazon, they are protected by the US judiciary with respect to their wages.
Important concepts involved with Amazon MTurk
The Amazon MTurk, like any cloud computing platform, is composed of several key concepts and entities. The five major terms frequently used in relation to MTurk projects are as follows:
- Human Intelligence Task (HIT): Every outsourcing service operates on projects and tasks that need to be completed. In the case of Amazon MTurk., this is termed as a Human Intelligence Task (HIT). It is the project submitted by a requester to the MTurk portal. This task is then allotted to Workers with required skills.
Usually, each HIT is a single, one-time, and self-contained task. These tasks have a unique feature that they can be performed better via human judgment than by computers. It can include menial tasks such as counting the number of times a word is said in a video or identifying a particular color in a photo. These tasks are listed on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website.
Understandably, every HIT is time-bound. In other words, the job provider can specify for how long it will be available for workers to view. Further, it also comes with a deadline or expected project duration. This means that a worker who accepts a project is provided with a certain amount of time to complete the assignment and submit it to the requester.
- Requester: The job-providing party on Amazon MTurk is known as a Requester. It can include individuals, companies, or organizations. They can create and submit tasks to Amazon Mechanical Turk in Hindi and other languages. Workers can view these projects and work on them.
Requesters are provided with a specialized software application for posting a job. They can use this app for interacting with the Mechanical Turk platform. The app helps them in submitting tasks. Further, the app retrieves and compiles results for their ease of use. As a requester, you have full access to the Requester website. Here, you can review your HIT status and handle your account.
- Worker: The other end of the bridge on the Amazon MTurk system are the workers. He or she is the one who undertakes the HITs posted by a requester. Often called Turkers or Crowdworkers, these individuals can look up the MTurk website for narrowing down job opportunities matching their skill set.
They complete the assignment for the quoted price, enter results in a stipulated question form, and submit them. It is compulsory that a Worker works on a single task at a given point of time. It is the decision of the requester as to the number of workers that can carry out a task.
- Assignment: The object of exchange between a requester and a worker on the amazon MTurk platform is known as an assignment. It consists of several specifications such as the number of workers that can submit results for a particular HIT. An assignment is the exclusive possession of the worker working on it.
As soon a worker chooses a HIT to work on, it is the responsibility of Amazon Mechanical Turk to create an assignment for tracking the level of progress. This continues until the project is completed. Once an assignment is completed, the worker is eligible for the stipulated payment or reward.
- Reward: Reward on any Amazon MTurk project is a part of the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2 Pricing. It is the money a worker receives from the requester. It is dependent on the successful and satisfactory completion of an assignment.
Industries where Amazon MTurk can be implemented
As expected, Amazon MTurk has found a huge scope of the implementation in the modern world. As per more than one reliable Amazon Mechanical Turk review, this system can be implemented in almost every sector and industry over the globe. A few of the important field of application of MTurk are as follows:
- Conducting surveys: Often, traditional mechanisms of conducting surveys are met with roadblocks. Be it questionnaires, email surveys, or telephonic interviews, the results obtained are skewed. Further, traditional surveying techniques are often very costly. In comparison, MTurk can easily enlist interested candidates for taking part in human-subject research surveys.
- Searching for missing persons: Since HITs posted on MTurk thrive under human supervision, missing person searches are one of the primary applications of this technology. CCTV or satellite footage can easily be divided among interested workers. They can comb through the footage to locate a particular person or object. This job cannot be accomplished as accurately by any artificial intelligence system.
- Creating, cleaning, and verifying data: MTurk workers can be used to create unique content for marketing and promotional purposes. Further, when it comes to cleaning data, this platform is the most ideal solution. Workers can easily handle large quantities of data and spot redundant, repetitive, or missing data. Thus, large data sets can be cleaned for analysis purposes.
Last but not least, a major part of verifying authenticity and appropriateness of data can be done via MTurk. This can include combing through videos or images to spot inappropriate or abusive content. Workers are often tasked with flagging and labeling such issues from large quantities of data. They can also digitize text from images into editable documents.
Advantages and disadvantages of Amazon MTurk
Both the pros and cons of Amazon MTurk are in plenty. First, let us talk about the benefits offered by the revolutionary Amazon MTurk platform:
- Optimal efficiency: MTurk makes use of the basic principle of outsourcing. It allows the internal employees and management of a company to focus on the core issues of the business. The menial, repetitive tasks are handed out via the online platform for speedy results. The manual tasks are completed efficiently while the saved time and resources can be focused on the internal functions of the company.
- Better flexibility: Once a company recruits a permanent workforce, scaling it becomes a difficult task. Further, it is impossible to find workers who possess all the requisite skills that every task can need. As a result, 24/7 access to a diverse online workforce lends an element of flexibility to your work environment. Your on-demand jobs can be completed quickly and efficiently.
- Cost-effective solutions: The biggest advantage associated with Amazon MTurk is the minimal cost of getting quality results. Since you are availing of a temporary workforce, your liability is considerably lower. There are minimal overhead and labor costs. Pay-per-projects costs are way lower than maintaining a large number of employees on a payroll.
On the flip side, there has been severe criticism of the Amazon Mechanical Turk Pay Model. It often forces the lesser qualified individuals to stay engaged in monotonous, stressful assignments for pennies on the dollar. People often choose to work at the platform simply because it pays. However, wage rates have often been criticized for being exploitative. It simply seems to utilize the fact that there are not enough jobs available for individuals possessing a certain level of education or a particular skill set.
Further, it has been observed in a 2018 survey that there are not as many workers available in the platform as projected. Although hundreds of thousands of workers are registered with the system, at a given point of time roughly only 2000 people are found to be working. Thus, this can come as a severe blow to requesters who might not get a speedy resolution to their assignments.
Amazon MTurk is undoubtedly, one of the most innovative cloud services of recent times. It benefits many Amazon Mechanical Turk masters, be it job providers or job seekers. However, the platform requires active work on standardizing its pay scale. As a platform, Amazon MTurk has opened job avenues for workers all over the world and promoted the concept of remote working greatly.