Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Managing Human Workers With an Algorithm

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the pointy-haired-algorithm dept.

Businesses 186

New submitter prayag writes "With the advent of crowdsourcing platforms it has become easier for people to 'automate' simple, yet repetitive tasks that computers aren't good at by hiring thousands of people at once. This can help some business cheaply accomplish certain tasks, but it can also be misused by spammers. A company called MobileWorks is even outsourcing this concept, reaching out to workers in developing nations whose income needs aren't as high. 'Kulkarni, who founded the company in 2010 with fellow graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley, says the value of tasks is set so that workers can reasonably earn $2 to $4 an hour; payments are on a sliding scale, with lower rates for poorer countries. "Even though they are acting as agents of a computer program, we are creating an opportunity for them," he says. MobileWorks charges its clients rates starting at $5 per hour for workers' time.'"

cancel ×

186 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Client rates... (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836027)

"clients rates starting at $5 per hour for workers' time."

Well, at least that prices out the sweatshops. Sorry, Nike and your ilk, you'll have to continue using your inefficient stuff.

Re:Client rates... (2)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836053)

Alternatively, if you want to bolster human worker efficiency with an algorithm, might I suggest a filter that blocks Facebook on the company WAN link!

Isn't this exploitation? (5, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836747)

... payments are on a sliding scale, with lower rates for poorer countries

 
I dunno about you, but when I read that I see exploitation all over it
 

Re:Isn't this exploitation? (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837635)

I dunno about you, but when I read that I see exploitation all over it

This company offers poor people a chance to earn money, at a rate that the poor voluntarily accept. The workers provide their own working environment, and the workers can take a break or stop working anytime they want. In many poor countries $3/hr is far above prevailing wages, and can support a standard of living that may surprise you. How is any of this "exploitation?"

Re:Isn't this exploitation? (5, Insightful)

bkk_diesel (812298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838233)

Someone once gave me this thought experiment to help illustrate the problem.

Suppose a company on an alien planet decided to outsource production of some product to earth.
Further suppose that on this other planet gold was plentiful, and wages were measured in tons of gold per day.

Would social do-gooders on the alien planet be outraged that wages paid to earthlings were thousandths of what the wages would be on the alien planet?

Should they be outraged?

Further, would it be ethical on the part of the alien corporation to pay the same wages to their earth counterparts as was common on their home planet? ie. If they needed 100 humans to make their product, would it be ethical to make those 100 people the richest (most powerful) people on earth in the name of "equality" in their home society?

Usually when we talk about exploitation we are making an ethical judgement. There certainly has to be a point at which to offer substantially higher wages to a subset of a community becomes damaging to the community. The fact is (as ShanghaiBill points out below), the company offers poor people a chance to make money at a rate that they voluntarily accept. How is that exploitative?

Re:Isn't this exploitation? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838769)

Thank you for relating that interesting analogy for us

Sure, if the aliens pay the same wages (tons of gold) to the 100 extra-lucky humans, they would become the most richest 0.1% amongst the 7 or so billion inhabitants on this planet

But, in the case we are talking about, paying the same US wage scale to those who work for them, even if they are living in Timbuktu, will make them relatively rich, but not super-rich, surely not the 0.1% most richest amongst all the other "Timbuktuans" (sorry, I don't know the spelling of the noun for people who live in Timbuktu)
 

Re:Isn't this exploitation? (5, Insightful)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839343)

In third world countries, tourists often tip e.g. rickshaw drivers handsomly, basically for the same reason that people want to pay much more to sweatshop employees. It quickly becomes apparant that driving a rickshaw is by far the best earning job for non-skilled, an perhaps even semi-skilled, labor. This drives more people to buy rickshaws, until an equilibrium is reached. As the hourly wage earned by driving around tourists is far higher than any other unskilled job, the equilibrium will consist of rickshaw drivers spending most of their time waiting for customers. The equilibrium ensures that the average wage is the same as for other unskilled work.

Now, compare the two situations, the one with and the one without the tourists. The wages for everybody is the same, but with the tourists, we have transferred a lot of people from productive work to unproductive waiting. This is harmful to the local economy. This effect happens even without the rickshaw drivers becomming the richest people around, it just have to pay markedly more than unskilled work does.

Or in short: If you are external to an economy, don't pay excessively for anything.

Re:Isn't this exploitation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838799)

That's how you earn a profit, which is what successful businesses do.

Re:Isn't this exploitation? (1)

LessCleverNickName (2449554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838813)

Workers in different areas do different kinds of work, so they earn different wages.

Hooray for Globalization (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836045)

payments are on a sliding scale, with lower rates for poorer countries

There's no meaningful reason to do this other than corporate profits.

Fear Not! (5, Insightful)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836131)

The larger and wealthier they get, the more secure and generous giant international corporations will feel. Their titanic concentrations of wealth will trickle down to . . .

. . . oh, sorry, I can't type this shit with a straight face long enough to come to a decent snark.

This technique is yet another step down a road toward a world where callous corporations dominate all political and economic activity.

Re:Fear Not! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836231)

U r bang on except we arrived at the end of the corporate slavery road some time ago.

The feeling that we are not there yet is just a side effect of consuming popular culture/propaganda.

The fact is that even though we may only just be realizing how bad we are being fucked over by our corporate masters, they have been doing it to us for a while.

Leonard Cohen knew it.... The war is over, the good guys have lost, and everybody knows.

Re:Fear Not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837779)

This technique is yet another step down a road toward a world where callous corporations further dominate all political and economic activity.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2, Insightful)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836205)

When did Slashdot become Marxdot?

And seemingly, anything vaguely Marxist sounding immediately gets modded up to +5. Yawn. I want to discuss tech news, but every single topic is becoming "death to Capitalism! Ra ra."

Re:Hooray for Globalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836437)

Kinda untrue but there are some things that _extreme_ capitalism brings with it that no sane person would support except extreme capitalists.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836491)

When did Slashdot become Marxdot?

About the same time you got stupid from talk radio.

One thing about the Slashdot audience (aka "nerds") is they can figure out when something works and when it doesn't. Maybe it comes from debugging code or compiling kernels. And experience with the technology sector gives one direct experience with corporate excess and the dangers of concentration of corporate power. We see it every single day.
It makes it a lot easier to recognize that kind of FAIL in the wild.

You don't have to be a genius to know that "free market capitalism" isn't working as advertised, but if you are a genius, you have no doubt that it's broken.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836537)

Just to clarify, by "you" I don't mean you personally (although I don't rule it out).

I refer to "you" as being the subset of people who believe it's even close to correct to call any criticism of laissez-faire "Marxism" as if the only possible alternative to the current corporate plantation system is Soviet-style gulags.

One clue for spotting stupid: when someone uses the term "Marxist", the probability of stupid approaches 1. It's the Godwin of economic discussions. (example: "Oh that Obama is nothing but a Marxist" or "Elizabeth Warren is a Marxist because she's trying to take away the banks' God-given right to rip-off customers".) Oh, and if you encounter the term "Muslim" in proximity to the term "Marxist" you have a stone-cold lock of the century of the week that you're dealing with mil-spec stupid.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1, Offtopic)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836959)

"Stupid people reference Marx, therefore any reference to Marx is stupid."? Pity you use logical fallacies continually in your arguments, in every single post .. because it sounds like you're actually just smart enough to be able to recognize a logical fallacy .. and yet you keep using them. Either you're not recognizing that you're doing it, or you don't care because the logical fallacies suit an agenda. It would be nice to have a more meaningful discussion with you about this stuff if you ever decide you want to stop with the constant logical fallacies for a moment, and really think/talk clearly and earnestly about this stuff. Until then though, it's a waste of time trying.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (0)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838547)

Moderation pattern is interesting - very clear I've been targeted - ha ha. Whatever, sock puppets, use up your mod points on me.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837783)

Another clue for spotting stupid: When someone claims that "free market capitalism" doesn't work as advertised based on the example of an economic system that is not "free market capitalism". No sweat though, those people tend to be Marxists anyways.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837805)

Well, I am a marxist so I don't mind being called one. What I do mind is when someone thinks they have a right to tell someone to shut up because they disagree with them. I have to say, only in America does "You're a marxist so shut up" fly. Now I should add that I don't believe the dictatorship of the proletariat will ever happen. I agree with the notion that the last chapter of all the 'meta-narratives' have turned out to be wrong. Or as Giddins said "If the dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitable, why does anyone need to become a Marxist?". Equally, however, I can't deny that peoples' behaviour is predicted most reliably not by their religion, or their culture, their place in the family or their shoe size, but by their relationship to the means of production. It explains the psycopathic behaviour of corporations too damn well.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836625)

Let me summarize your points:
1. Recompiling a kernel and working in a company make you highly qualified in political and moral philosophy.
2. The current corporatist system we have is flawed. Because corporatism is flawed, some other thing that isn't corporatism is "broken"?

Re:Hooray for Globalization (4, Insightful)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836759)

1. Recompiling a kernel and working in a company make you highly qualified in political and moral philosophy.

Yes. I have a low tolerance to Truthiness. If a device is not giving consistent results, it is flawed. If a program is giving inconsistent results, it is buggy. If a person is saying inconsistent things, they are liars. An IT background has forced this world view. Others will be less fault tolerant of people.

2. The current corporatist system we have is flawed. Because corporatism is flawed, some other thing that isn't corporatism is "broken"?

No. There may not be an "Unbroken System". But we should be filtering for flaws and implementing ways of removing flaws as quickly as possible. Something corporate lobbyists seem to be opposed to.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836777)

Others will be more fault tolerant of people.

Fixed that for me. Next time I'll spend more time reading back.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838621)

You are misusing the concept of fault tolerance. It implies the system could continue to work, despite the faults. Some may say our system is working, but it sure as hell is not working for the common man.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837077)

Do you actually know the difference between corporatism and capitalism?

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838709)

Spot on. Most of the hard and uneasy questions of morale and philosophy can be boiled down to simple "how does it work" and "how should it work". Yes, there is more than one way to skin the cat (rule the country or implement new features in the code), but there are obviously less buggy, more buggy and non-working ones. And experience in IT gives many of us good sense of which is which, even if we are not absolute experts in the field.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836637)

We see it every single day

Even the janitor at Goldman Sachs can see that "something" isn't working right, but it doesn't make him automatically highly qualified to restructure structure with force.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836653)

Sorry: *structure = restructure society

Re:Hooray for Globalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836927)

Yeah, because nerds run videogame companies so well, right?

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836969)

Same shit, new words:
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxism
Marx believed that the capitalist bourgeois and their economists were promoting what he saw as the lie that "The interests of the capitalist and those of the worker are... one and the same"; he believed that they did this by purporting the concept that "the fastest possible growth of productive capital" was best not only for the wealthy capitalists but also for the workers because it provided them with employment.

Bourgeoisie: those who "own the means of production" (you're new non-marxist sounding word would be Corporation)

If you're going to argue Marxist principles, at least have a clue what you're arguing.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837003)

Incidentally, in spite of your "insightful-moderated" ad hominem attempt to poison the well while also using a strawman, I in fact have never listened to one single minute of the talk radio you refer to. I learned about Marx by, you know, READING WHAT MARX ACTUALLY WROTE. If you ever care to try debunk an argument using facts and reason instead of lies, insults and logical fallacies, then let me know.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838727)

Oooh... so much strong words, so little sense. "Ad hominem" - check, "logical fallacy" - check, "strawman" - check... slashdot-buzzword combo of the day! If only there was some message along with all that emotions...

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836513)

Technology has a profound effect on the way society works and on the way different countries interact.
I'm open to a discussion on why paying Pakistanis less than Romanians for the exact same work makes sense,
but you mostly seem interested in calling that discussion Marxism and claiming I mean "death to Capitalism! Ra ra."

Am I really the only one who thinks that arbitrarily paying people from certain countries less for the same work is a shitty thing to do?
You don't have to be a Socialist to find that idea repellent.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838607)

If you were open to a discussion on why paying Pakistanis less than Romanians for the exact same work doesn't make sense, then you would've said that in your post. YOU DIDN'T. Don't back out now. What you said was, and I quote:

"Hooray for Globalization (Score:3) ...
There's no meaningful reason to do this other than corporate profits."

Actually, I change my mind - backing out now is exactly the correct thing to do when you realize you are wrong.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

LessCleverNickName (2449554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838721)

It's not the same work.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836721)

That's what happens when people realize the fruits of unbridled capitalism.

death to Capitalism (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836753)

There's nothing wrong with capitalism.

There is something wrong with corporations having unbridled power over governments, societies, people and the environment, manipulating them all to maximize the wealth of the executives. The root of the problem is that corporations are essentially amoral sociopaths with indifference to the means and only one objective: maximising the wealth of the executives.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837141)

"And seemingly, anything vaguely Marxist sounding immediately gets modded up to +5. Yawn"

I really don't know how this bullshit gets modded insightful after the corporate coup in america (the giant fucking bail out!)

http://dailybail.com/home/there-are-no-words-to-describe-the-following-part-ii.html [dailybail.com]

http://dailybail.com/ [dailybail.com]

Re:Hooray for Globalization (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836421)

dont worry bitch,yo hard working sorry ass husband aint home for another hour,got time to do yo up dem ass again.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2)

RKBA (622932) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836645)

Most people seem to forget that the justification for creating corporations and "person-hood" in the first place here in the US was that the corporations were supposed to perform a public service of some sort. That has apparently either been forgotten or expanded to include "for-profit" corporations that are accountable only to their shareholders and not to the public at all.

the public good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836791)

That went by the wayside long ago, along with checks and balances and the constitution. Now there is nothing but corporate greed running the US and, thereby, the world.

other than corporate profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836701)

But corporate profit is the sole reason corporations exist (not for profits aside). Profit motive is the essence of market economies and utilitarianism - the essences of the American Way. Are you suggesting that the American Way is meaningless?

Not that I would disagree with you if you were, but just saying...

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837131)

There's no meaningful reason to do this other than corporate profits.

Well, that is why people go into business.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837709)

payments are on a sliding scale, with lower rates for poorer countries

There's no meaningful reason to do this other than corporate profits.

And that is a good reason. If this company is highly profitable, they can afford to grow quickly, hire a lot more people, and lift many more families out of poverty. If instead, they pay more than they have to, that will benefit relatively fewer.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838785)

Oh yes, lift out of poverty all that yacht-building firms, golf clubs, nice restaurants and boutiques. Oh, yes, there is also all that poor CEO's, their friends and families, vast army of starving lawyers, Congressmen and Senators, struggling to feed their children, all that brave and absolutely altruistic police forces, political party activists, who don't even own their last shirt to give to the poor and so on. Yes, think of all that people, who live only by the goodwill of the honest and caring Corporations...

Sorry, I'm beginning to feel sick.

Re:Hooray for Globalization (2)

LessCleverNickName (2449554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838147)

There's no meaningful reason to do this other than corporate profits.

Actually, if you take the time to read about the system, you'll learn that the reason is very simple: different kinds of work are reserved for different kinds of workers, in keeping with the company's comprehensive and World Bank-partnered anti-poverty goals [mobileworks.com] . Tasks that pay less are routed to workers for whom the pay can still make a meaningful impact. For example, OCR tasks that you can do on a cell phone might be sent to an individual working on a cell phone in Mumbai, while tasks requiring Photoshop expertise might be sent to someone in a city in eastern Europe.

Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (3, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836047)

Kill this concept with fire and nuke it from orbit, TYVM. The last thing this economy needs is to siphon more work while we have people who cannot find replacement work fast enough to justify this kind of stuff.

The only logic in this algorithm is that US citizens are considered persona non grata unless they want to forgo the 13th Amendment in the name of economics - much like the various programs that precede it. Given the other companies out there, this is an already solved problem for the Third World. What they fail to do is to solve it for the First World.

In addition, the only purpose that this could serve is spam.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836071)

#1. Poor people live everywhere.
#2. Rich people can take their resources elsewhere
#3. Corporations are people, apparently. Thus the singluar rich have a louder voice that the masses.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836173)

With point 1, that fails to take into account that services like this act as an incorrect redistribution that pulls the US down to pull the world up. The world acts not like a dynamic pie, but a 99.999999999999999999% fixed pie.
Point 2 is effectively nullified by the United States, which doesn't care about jurisdiction. Repeat enough times, and it becomes a futile task to go anywhere when the US is already ahead of you.
Point 3 can be managed with a government that considers it a problem solved by requiring a flesh-and-blood presence and diluting the dollar-vote advantage.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837253)

1a. Mass communication at the speed of light instantly lowered the barriers to entry. So naturally the US is hemorrhaging wealth for the time being. But the correction will start to level off when labor becomes too expensive for the products and services you're willing to purchase. We are already seeing this effect with mass production. China is getting expensive. Eventually it will move to Africa and the Middle East until all corners of the Earth have been touched.

1b. It's never a fixed pie. If that was the case, humanity would still be living in an agrarian life with no means for technological advancement in all endeavors.

2. Rich people only have money when others spending their on goods and services owned and controlled by the rich. Ultimately their wealth is worthless when everyone else has no money to spend. More often than not, it's government regulation that's protecting the rich under the original idea of protecting the poor. It's a sad ironic truth in fact.

3. I'm torn on this. On one hand, people hiding behind a corporation are little if ever held accountable for their actions. It's used like a suit of armor to take all the legal hits. On the other, it allows people to take on more risk that further develops our economy and productivity. I'm open to debate on whether this is ultimately good or bad.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839411)

With point 1, that fails to take into account that services like this act as an incorrect redistribution that pulls the US down to pull the world up. The world acts not like a dynamic pie, but a 99.999999999999999999% fixed pie.

You might want to read up on the counterintuitive concept of comparative advantage [wikipedia.org] . In short, free trade benefits everybody, as people can specialize in whatever they are comparatively best at. Of course, there are some assumptions which will hold to a smaller of higher degree, depending on the exact case.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836073)

Hey, it's better than giving it away, like FOSS.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836083)

In addition, the only purpose that this could serve is spam.

One word: reCAPTCHA.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836199)

In addition, the only purpose that this could serve is spam.

One word: reCAPTCHA.

One more word: niGGERS.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836553)

Niggers aren't just African-Americans. Some niggers are Caribbean-Americans. And there's plenty of niggers outside of the USA too! Trust me. I'm an expert. I am seething with hatred for those cursed apes.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (0, Troll)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836275)

Call a waaambulance! Would you like some cheese with that whine? Seriously, you sound like buggy whip manufacturers must have sounded at one point in history. The collective whining in here is tiresome. The world is changing, technology is moving fast, and you can either cry your eyes out and demand the world must please stay the same, or you can deal with it pro-actively and learn how to take advantage of the changes. While you're busy whining here, somewhere else someone is figuring out how to improve the world and better their own lot simultaneously with these changes. And yes, the US is still a good place to do that.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (-1, Flamebait)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836509)

derp

Sounds like you want to be an apologist for the world, someone that thinks the US should suffer. Trying to pull down the US to the level of the Third World does nothing positive - rather, it makes things worse. Your consent to such action as well as its defense with "but, but, buggywhips!" does nothing to make your case.

The problem is that someone isn't figuring out how to improve the world - but to do something that comes at the general cost of US citizens. Not only does that not grow any pie, it actively harms the US.

Eventually, you will regret your position when the US finally decides to Do Something and end such practices.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (0)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836651)

Sounds like you just want to "make shit up" and then attribute your made-up shit to me, falsely claiming it is my viewpoint. Well done. Now try rebuking my actual arguments, instead of plain straight lying.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836671)

you sound like buggy whip manufacturers

In the past, "the next big thing(s)" that would replace the lost jobs were fairly clear. This time it's different. Nobody knows what will replace all the jobs lost to automation and offshoring. I cannot name a potentially big industry that will replace them, can you?

Maybe "it" will finally come in 10 years, but humans don't last that long without food and shelter.

Perhaps work is becoming "obsolete", but the right-wingers will bitch about "commie socialism" if we subsidize people.

humans don't last that long without food and shelt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838265)

That might be the quickest fix to global warming...

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837457)

Don't know, I thought something completely different when I read this. Having lived in impoverished countries, I thought of people I knew and thought, "what a great opportunity for them to earn extra money!"

I consider people outside the US to be my brothers and sisters just as much as people inside the US. If it benefits them, it's good.

Sounds like Manna to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838713)

Bringing this concept home might not be so good either. Particularly if it goes like this. [marshallbrain.com]

There is one upside though. In theory it would eventually cut the unnecessary and wasteful cost overheads (like golden parachutes) associated with upper management. However since the least cost-effective personnel tend to make the decisions, it's unlikely to happen unless somebody starts a successful company with an AI as the CEO from the start.

Re:Sounds like Manna to me... (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839029)

Mod parent up. This is very much like Manna.

Re:Yet another thing that doesn't help the US. (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839429)

As a former Peace Corps volunteer and a business creator in USA, let me tell you and the other Anti-Globalists that you are completely and utterly wrong. About most things, yes, but about this particular thing, you aren't in the tiniest bit correct. The Algorithm outsources computing calculation time from a huge computer, e.g. giving IBM's Big Blue more "leisure time" (if you insist on Marxist/Utopian language). The $4 per hour job doesn't take a single thing away from the USA. It goes to a place with 50% unemployment (think Afghanistan or Cairo or Lagos). People earn double what they'd earn if they could find a job. They might become consumers of USA software or something, creating more employment.

I think this article is AWESOME and it's nearly perfect in that it costs no jobs and brings hope to people in developing world who have internet and education. http://retroworks.blogspot.fr/2012/08/awesome-trend-crowdsourcing-developing.html [blogspot.fr] . I for one welcome the new Algorithm Outsource Overlords.

Anti-globalists make me want to cry when they confuse recoiling from images of poverty with compassion. The girl in Accra got a $2-4 job by freeing up some algorithm bandwidth in Silicon Valley. And you want to nuke her from orbit. And several other commenters share your "deny them" views, and don't understand that a $3/hr job actually forces sweatshop labor rates UP by creating alternatives for the unemployed. And someone with mod points actually modded you up. If you worked for me, and spoke this way about our overseas clients and contractors, I'd be thrilled to fire you and outsource your job to someone in Africa with a brain and a heart.

I'll stick to paid interns for this kind of work (5, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836237)

If you're hiring out to a part of the world you'll never visit and never know the people, you are going to miss out on spotting talent that can help your company grow. Our company has a very tedious and mind-numbing research project that is perfect for outsourcing, but we use interns from area colleges. The star players on the intern team shine through and are given a chance for employment. I guess that's the difference between looking at people as a long-term investment versus disposable labor though.

That can't turn right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836243)

Reminds me of this novel from Brain Marshal:
http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

That's not a good sign...

Re:That can't turn right... (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838837)

Yep, only read it a few days ago myself. Somewhat naive, but somewhat uncomfortably possible view on our future.

Is this the psychohistory we've been waiting for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836249)

Is this the psychohistory we've been waiting for?

parasite class (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836299)

Yet another example of how the parasite class exploits the labor of the working classes.

$2/hr to person creating value. $3/hr to parasite.

Have a need to track them down (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836347)

by any chance do you also have the names and addresses of those founders from Berkeley?

Algorithms / metrics don't work that well (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836357)

Algorithms / metrics don't work that well and people just end up gameing the metrics and not the real work they should be doing.

Feedback into Cybernetics (3, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836483)

1. Manage human workers with an algorithm.
2. Manage algorithms with human workers.
3. Goto 1 until the Borg rule.

Re:Feedback into Cybernetics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838105)

1. Manage human workers with an algorithm.

2. Manage algorithms with human workers.

3. Check if Borg rule.

4. Goto 1 until the Borg rule.

5. Borg profit...

People do this for free already (2)

Narrowband (2602733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836519)

It's called "citizen science," expanding the concept of things like SETI at home to drawing on the mass capability of interested people.

A good example is GalaxyZoo [galaxyzoo.org] . People classify images of galaxies online.

C'mon guys... (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836543)

Can we please just get the robotic-uprising-and-enslavement-of-mankind over with already and dispense with the assorted sordid intermediate steps?

At least that part will have laser guns and gigantic deathbots, rather than gnawing ennui and postindustrial globalized cube hell...

Provide an API (2)

iiii (541004) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836551)

First of all, as someone who's work in parallel computing for a while, I think it's actually quite hard to define tasks that actually have value that can be broken down into such small and easy sub-tasks. And within the set of problems where you can do that, there is a pretty large overlap between what a completely untrained person can do and what a perl script can do. So the whole idea of an army of anonymous random humans adding microvalue that adds up to big value is problematic for me. Maybe there is theoretical value there, but so many things could go wrong.

Secondly, if you can clearly define a task like that, and what it is worth to you, why restrict your solution to humans? Provide an API and let me try to solve it algorithmically. If all you care about is getting the task done, what does it matter whether I get it done with a dozen Indian subcontractors, a thousand trained monkeys, or a clever little genetic algorithm?

Re:Provide an API (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837265)

Breaking captcha
Sorting images, videos by categories (porn vs piglets ...)
Message board polluting
Fake laudative reviews

Possibilities are endless, and that is just for "internet" activities.

Mechanical Turk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836569)

How is this any different than Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk which does, seemingly, the same thing with human labor?

One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (3, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836633)

function manageWorker(worker)
      while (worker)
      {
          worker.flog();
          if (worker.isDead)
          {
              return;
          }
          else if (worker.morale == HIGH_MORALE || worker.productivity == HIGH_PRODUCTIVITY)
          {
              worker.goldstars++;
            }
          manageWorker(worker);
      }
}

Re:One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (4, Informative)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837041)

You have the makings of a stack overflow there.

Re:One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837117)

That's okay, he has God watching the process and if that happens he run kill -9 (which he has aliased to Ragnarok) on the process and then restarts it.

Re:One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837801)

You have the makings of a stack overflow there.

Any decent compiler should be able to recognize tail-recursion [stackoverflow.com] and optimize out the function call. It should require no stack space.

Re:One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (1)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838617)

Actually he's fine.

He'll hit the base case long before he runs out of stack space:


if (worker.isDead)
{
        return;
}

:)

Re:One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838475)

Because fuck braces and unnecessary recursion:

def manageWorker(worker):
  isFired = False
  while not worker.isDead or isFired:
    worker.flog()
    isAcceptableMorale = worker.morale >= MORALE_THRESOLD
    isAcceptableProductivity = worker.productivity >= PRODUCTIVITY_THRESOLD
    if isAcceptableMorale or isAcceptableProductivity:
      worker.goldstars += 1
    else:
      isFired = True

Re:One of the Oldest Algorythms on the Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40839277)

while not worker.isDead or isFired:

The while loop should be: "while not worker.isDead and not isFired" because otherwise you can have a fired dead worker continue to earn gold stars...

Arbitrage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836871)

This looks like a good example of economic arbitrage- with disparity in the cost of living, outsourcers like this can profit by buying low and selling high.

What's really interesting is if the compounded affects of the many businesses doing similar services as this one will infuse enough capital into these counties such that they can improve their own economic well being as we've seen happen in China, India and other places. If that happens (and the costs of living in various parts of the world stop being orders of magnitude different), outsourcing could stop being such an alluring thing.

On a similar note, ending the minimum wage in the US could help people who have no other options produce at least some income from jobs like this.

Re:Arbitrage (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837323)

Another possibility is to have import taxes. Since import taxes have been suppressed, we have endured a long period of salary deflation, resulting in morose growth, chronic overproduction, commercial deficit, private debt explosion (much worst than the often reviled public sector debt actually), etc. There is just not much sense making a single market from geographic areas that are so different in term of incomes. We would all be better off if we stopped that fallacy and returned to salary growth with strict border controls. No cheap Chinese goods anymore on the shelf, but more manufacture jobs and higher salaries means that we could still afford a proper way of living, even buying more expensive products.

Re:Arbitrage (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#40839471)

We would all be better off if we stopped that fallacy and returned to salary growth with strict border controls.

Generally, comparative advantage [wikipedia.org] disagrees with that conclusion. How does the current situation negate that?

Re:Arbitrage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837377)

On a similar note, ending the minimum wage in the US could help people who have no other options produce at least some income from jobs like this.

Remember those words well. I'm sure they'll make you feel much better when your choices are manning the deep fryer at McDonald's for 50 cents an hour and writing spambot code at 50 cents an hour.

(Protip: Google "race to the bottom".)

Eat the rich. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836957)

It's the only thing they might really be good for.

They taste bad raw, but grilled with some Tabasco they aren't bad.

Try it, you'll like it.

SciFi - Manna (2)

femto (459605) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836999)

Have a read of Manna [marshallbrain.com] , by Marshall Brain ( How Stuff Works founder). It predicts workers being managed by computers, then extrapolates the results. The results aren't pretty.

Re:SciFi - Manna (1)

don.g (6394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837705)

It's also not that good a story. It's exposition with poor narrative bolted on. Marshall Brain is, alas, not Aldous Huxley.

Re:SciFi - Manna (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838875)

Ah yes, if only Manna was written by someone like Alfred Bester or even Philip K. Dick... But still it has some uncomfortably valid points.

s4ex with 4 Nigga (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40837053)

Seems extremely inefficient (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40837765)

First you actually have to go out and define the task to the point that someone who has little to no knowledge of your organization can actually do it, then you have to create the ad and most importantly WAIT for someone who has the right skills to come and accept it and then go through all the work of actually confirming the answer since you really have no trust relationship with the person who answered it, you are sort of going blind....

So not only does it not really save any time or money, you put your entire project at risk waiting for the answer. As the adage goes, time is money and if you are trying to save a few bucks using this model then you arent very smart with either.

Re:Seems extremely inefficient (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838413)

Paraphrasing, you are saying "it will never work". Fine then.

If it is not worth it to you, don't do it.

Negativism negated.

Re:Seems extremely inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40838421)

I agree with you. I thought the same thing. Then again, this inefficiency could explain why they're charging a pretty big markup.

Re:Seems extremely inefficient (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838613)

First you actually have to go out and define the task to the point that someone who has little to no knowledge of your organization can actually do it

There are many tasks where this is possible. I have never used the company in TFA, but I use Mechanical Turk all the time. My wife and I run a crowd-sourced educational website for young children. Teachers or parents can create and upload lessons, and use them and make them available for others to use as well. The exercise may require a child to match the word "pig" with a picture of a pig. But occasionally we get some joker who thinks it's funny to slip in goatse or some other porn so the kiddies can get educated in ways their parents may not approve of. So we pay people through MT to go through the images before they are available to the public. People are willing to do this for about 5 cents/image, and we have two people look at each image.

We also use MT to do translations. If we want a children's story translated into, say, Indonesian, we would have to pay hundreds of dollars to have it done professionally. So we just use Google Translate to do a rough translation, then pay three different Turkers to fixup the translation. Then we pay a few more Turkers to vote on with of the three translations is better. Anyone who consistently gets voted down is disqualified from any future assignment. This works well, is all automated, and if far cheaper than using a professional service. I also feel good about fact that we are helping dozens of poor people around the world to support their families.

Checking spreadsheets? (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40838841)

...to do routine jobs that computers aren't yet good at, like checking spreadsheets...

Excuse me, but wasn't the computer spreadsheet invented because computers would be good at checking spreadsheets?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?