It’s a trade-off, of course, to use (cheap, fast) inexperienced non-journalists armed with generic questions versus (slow, expensive) experienced journalists who can devise more specific questions. And having one person involved with the entire assignment, with working knowledge of all of the parts and how they fit together, seems like the logical way to work. But the “My Boss is a Robot” team makes the point that, if it works, mTurk could lend itself to much more significant processes. From the website:

Tasks that involve planning and creativity don’t seem to lend themselves to the platform. But maybe that’s because no one has figured out a way of breaking these more complex processes into a series of straightforward tasks. If so, many more processes — product design? medical diagnosis? — might be crowdsourced.

Now there’s a scary thought. If you think it’s weird to have a hundred anonymous Mechanical Turk workers as your local news reporter, how about having them as your doctor?

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner