Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Searching for Lost Aviator

Amazon.com has pointed their amazing Mechanical Turk towards the task of examining satellite imagery in search of lost explorer Steve Fossett. Fossett’s plane was reported missing on September 3, 2007 after he failed to return from a flight over the Nevada desert.

If you have never encountered Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, you really should go take a look. Basically it allows you to sign up for small units of work that are fairly easy for a human to accomplish but would be quite difficult for a computer. You can complete the task and be paid a small amount of money (from pennies to a couple of dollars depending on the task) for the work. Examples of various tasks are transcribing a video to text, drawing lines on a picture of a road to mark the edges of the roadway, searching for the correct UPC code for a product, etc.

In the case of the search for Fossett, recent satellite imagery has been taken of the Nevada desert where his plane was lost, and your job is to help examine these images. The task does not pay anything, but it is for a great cause. After signing up for the task, your are presented with a small satellite photo and are asked to indicate whether there is anything that could potentially be airplane wreckage in the photo. If you do see something that looks out of the ordinary you provide a comment about the artifact and submit it for further review.

This is a great use of Amazon’s system and very well could help find Fossett. Please head on over and sign up and go through some photos. It is a quick and easy way to help out in the rescue efforts for this adventurer.

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