The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. Although many had suspected the hidden human operator, the hoax was initially revealed only in the 1820s by the Londoner Robert Willis."
The basic idea behind Mturk is that, advanced as computers are, there are still some things they aren't capable of. If you show a computer two pictures, one of a barbershop, and the other of an ice cream shop, odds are it wont' be able to identify which is which. But a human can do it pretty easily. So, much like the Mechanical Turk of old, a human takes the place of a machine and completes tasks which are impossible for today's computers.
|A computer can't identify competition for Pizza My Ass, but YOU can!|
This is great for everyone, since people who need pictures identified or whatnot can get them identified, and people with too much time on their hands can get paid to identify pictures of stuff (or whatever else needs to get done). Payments can range from one cent to several dollars per HIT (human intelligence task).
I've been a member over at Mturk for a few years, and in total I've made over $100. It's not a lot for the amount of time, but I often find I can do a few jobs while I'm surfing the internet (or blogging) and it doesn't take up any more of my time then I'm already wasting online anyways.
If you're interested in giving it a try and making a couple cents, then head over to mturk.com. And for the record, I'm not getting paid or compensated in any way for linking to them. I just really like what it offers and like to spread the word about cool stuff.