Crowdsourced AI: the Low-Wage Knowledge Work of the Future
As both Artificial Intelligence and Robotics become more “real,” we have developed a more practical understanding of these technologies’ limitation. What is striking is that, contrary to what most people believe, the most “irreplaceable” human work tends to come at the lower end of the wage/status scale. Robots are better at surgery than they are at janitorial work, AI is better at legal scholarship and journalism than it is at customer service.
Enter Chorus, a crowdsourced chat platform
When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system, called Chorus, using an instant messaging window, they get an experience practically indistinguishable from chatting with a single real person. Yet behind the scenes, each response is the result of tens of people paid a few cents to perform small tasks: including suggesting possible replies and voting for the best suggestions submitted by other workers…
Chorus does that with three simple types of task. First, any new chat updates from the human user are passed along to many crowd workers, who are asked to suggest a reply. Those suggestions are then voted on by crowd workers to determine the one that will be sent back. A final mechanism creates a kind of working memory that ensures that Chorus’s replies reflect the history of the conversation so far, crucial if it is to carry out long conversations—something that is a challenge for apps like Siri and even AI chatbots intended to showcase conversational skills.
For the working memory component, crowd members are asked to maintain a short running list of the eight most important snippets of information under discussion, to be used as a reference when workers suggest replies.
This is important, as to allow for the natural turnover of crowdsourcing workers. “A single person may not be around for the duration of the conversation—they come and go, and some may contribute more than others,” says Bigham.
Bigham says Chorus has the potential to be more than just a neat demonstration. “We definitely want to start embedding it into real systems,” he says. “Perhaps you could help someone with cognitive impairment by having a crowd as a personal assistant.” Another possibility is to combine Chorus with another system previously developed at Rochester, which has crowd workers collaborate to steer a robot. “Could you create a robot this way that can drive around and interact intelligently with humans?” asks Bigham.
(via Artificial Intelligence, Powered by Many Humans - Technology Review)