A few weeks later I wrote about people as parts of computer systems to make them cheaper or more intelligent. Some of the best examples are when you can tap into the normal usage of Internet users to create something valuable as in the evolving banners example.
I began wondering if there was a way to make an incentive for Internet users to build a common sense database and actually giving them something in return. My suggestion: “Games With A Cause” – you play, we get a bit of common sense.
There are two ways to get Internet users to work with you. Either the work must be a part of their normal usage so they don’t really notice that they are doing any work (the evolving banners would be an example) or you have to give them something in return: a good service, monetary value or simply a good time while at it.
With that in mind I came up with an idea of making a series of simple Internet games where users could play and while at it, they would be building a database of common sense “knowledge bits”.
The first game is ready. The game is called Norm, and vaguely resembles the TV show “Family Feud” (however without any association with it whatsoever). The objective is to guess other user’s most common answers to simple questions. Norm is totally real time, so your answers will have changed the “correct” answers when the next player comes across the same question.
Now I’m certainly not claiming to be any kind of an AI expert and I probably will not make any kind of AI system from the gathered data myself. The data gathered in the current set of questions also has limited value, but I see this now more as a proof of concept. If it turns out to generate any traffic at all, the set of questions in Norm will be updated and it will encourage me to create a few more Games With A Cause (GWACs).
I have a few concepts in development, notably a search game where the player is asked a non-trivial question (e.g. “How many people have traveled to the moon?”) and he or she supposed to search the Web for an answer (“12” in this case). The gathered data in that case might help an AI system to form effective queries to search the web or at least give clues to how to structure such queries – and then we might be talking about some real value.
Or maybe all of this was just a long excuse to get the grips of PHP and MySQL 😉 But – hey – I haven’t really programmed anything for almost a year, so I was feeling a bit of an urge. In any case I hope Norm is fun to play.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me. I will also be happy to send anyone the data that has been gathered in the GWACs at any time.