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Posted in books, culture, programming, technology by johnsnavely on December 13, 2008
Cover of Gibsons Neuromancer

Wikipedia: Cover of Gibson's Neuromancer

In a recent conversation, Johnny Lee mentioned (and I think he was referring to Desnee Tan‘s work) that sensors could be all over the place and still not give us all the information we need. For example, we could have a camera in our car but it might be hard to recognize with computer vision an “accident” ahead. But if we placed sensors on someone’s body we might be able to record their heartrate or adrenaline as they “sensed” the accident ahead. We could sense of lot of information through the body.

The first thing I thought of in the back of my mind was Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Billed “Artificial Artifical Intelligence”, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk basically provides an interface and market for people to divide computationally complex tasks into small Human Intelligence Tasks. For example, if you come up with a question that fits a given statement, you’ll get $0.03.  Spammers have used this service to bypass the “test” to see you’re a real person on blogs and forums.

But one big problem with Turk is that the HIT’s generally require conscious effort, which is slow and time-consuming for both Workers and Requestors…  I think you see where I’m going here.

People hooked up to sensors could “automatically” be turked, selling data gathered subconsciously (thanks for the link T). For example, I want to do a quick test of a new ad campaign. I flash the ad up to some Workers. They just look at it for a second. I gather bio-feedback. And we’re done! They get some pennies in their accounts. I get results instantaneously.

The whole thing feels sorta Neuromancer-like, which means it’s probably going to happen.


3 Responses

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  1. jason said, on December 14, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Apparently computers will read our thoughts soon. Remember when computers had separate coprocessors for doing floating point math? We’re the reality coprocessor to the machine.

  2. son1 said, on December 14, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Glad you liked the link.

    Damn you for just dropping phrases like, “Johnny Lee mentioned,” like you and he are best friends now. Just chattin’ up a storm!

    By the way, have you heard of compressed sensing before? (It’s a Hot New Thing in machine learning…)

    Also: email me your snail-mail address, man. I’ve got a gift for you.

  3. johnsnavely said, on December 14, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    We’re certainly not best friends. But one of the perks of MS is being close enough to smart people to hear offhand what they’re interested in. And then writing a blog post about it. Hearsay!

    Thanks for the compressed sensing link.

    I don’t know about the mind reading. But yeah, processors everywhere. I’ve been wanting to jam stuff into my head for while.

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