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Old December 6th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #1

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Could future bosses be computers?


How would you feel about it?

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"I'D RATHER have a computer as my boss than a jerk," says Daniel Barowy. To that end he has created AutoMan, the first fully automatic system that can delegate tasks to human workers via crowdsourcing platforms such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk.
Artificial intelligence is improving all the time, but computers still struggle to complete certain tasks that are easy for us, such as quickly reading a car's license plate or translating a joke. To get round this, people can post such tasks on platforms like Mechanical Turk for others to complete. Barowy wanted to automate this process - and AutoMan was born.
"We think of it as a new kind of computing," says Barowy, a computer scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. "It changes the kind of things you can do."
Barowy and colleagues designed AutoMan to send out jobs, manage workers, accept or reject work and make payments. "You're replacing people's bosses with a computer," he says.
The quality guarantee is the most important contribution of the work, says Barowy. "Without a mechanism for addressing the quality of worker output, full automation is not possible."
Unlike existing crowdsourcing platforms, AutoMan doesn't attempt to predict the reliability of its workers based on their previous performance. Instead, if it is not sure it has the correct answer, it keeps on posting the same job, upping the fee each time, until it is confident that it does.
"One way to think about it is that it saves the interesting parts, the creative parts, or the fun parts for people," says Barowy. "It's really the best of both worlds. You have the computer doing the grunt work."
AutoMan could be used by developers of apps like VizWiz, in which blind people take a photo of their surroundings and receive a description of the scene. The algorithm could be incorporated into the app, sending the photos to crowdworkers, choosing the correct descriptions and sending them back to the app's user.
Of course, human labour doesn't come free. AutoMan will be given a budget by the app developer and be programmed to keep costs down. Quicker - or higher quality - responses will cost more but AutoMan will manage all of this automatically. Anyone using such hybrid software wouldn't know whether they were interacting with a machine or a crowd of humans - or both.
So how do Mechanical Turk workers feel about being directly employed by a computer? Barowy has received positive feedback so far. When a human boss rejects your work, it can feel personal or unfair. But that's not the case with AutoMan. "People ended up liking the system because it's impartial," he says. The team presented the work at the OOPSLA conference in Tucson, Arizona, last month.
Your next boss could be a computer - tech - 06 December 2012 - New Scientist
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Old December 6th, 2012, 04:01 PM   #2

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A nod and a wink to the computer programmer and then into see the boss about my pay rise.

Seriously being the boss isnt all about number crunching, there are deals to be made, deadlines to be kept, man management issues.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 11:17 PM   #3

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Well, at least nobody can say the computer is bias. It won't care how pretty you look, who your friends are, what race you are, how old you are...
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Old December 6th, 2012, 11:23 PM   #4

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Well, at least nobody can say the computer is bias. It won't care how pretty you look, who your friends are, what race you are, how old you are...
Certainly. in fact, it would even result in an increase in a company's productivity because, the computer/"boss" would always pick the right person for each department. However, the catch would be, most of the staff would not enjoy working there because they do not have that personal interaction with the boss...
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:34 AM   #5

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Certainly. in fact, it would even result in an increase in a company's productivity because, the computer/"boss" would always pick the right person for each department. However, the catch would be, most of the staff would not enjoy working there because they do not have that personal interaction with the boss...
True, but a boss who is completely professional may be more advantageous. He won't get sued for harassing anyone. Also, new developments in programming can even make computers pleasant to interact with. Is it worth it, is the question.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:45 AM   #6

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The Boss has told Tilley in accounts that she can get time off if she would only jiggle his software a bit and help upgrade his RAM.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:51 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by The Cell View Post
Certainly. in fact, it would even result in an increase in a company's productivity because, the computer/"boss" would always pick the right person for each department. However, the catch would be, most of the staff would not enjoy working there because they do not have that personal interaction with the boss...

The computer would always pick the person with the best CV, now does having the most qualifications, or the most experience make you the best person to fill a vacancy. There are human factors at play that the computer could not pick up on such as team building skills, natural leadership skills, communication skills.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:58 AM   #8

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The computer would always pick the person with the best CV, now does having the most qualifications, or the most experience make you the best person to fill a vacancy. There are human factors at play that the computer could not pick up on such as team building skills, natural leadership skills, communication skills.
The CV only gets you in the door. After that, you have to perform. The person that lands the best accounts, generates the most profits, and the support of colleagues has to be considered.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:10 AM   #9

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The computer would always pick the person with the best CV, now does having the most qualifications, or the most experience make you the best person to fill a vacancy. There are human factors at play that the computer could not pick up on such as team building skills, natural leadership skills, communication skills.
No, it would also judge things like emotional maturity, decision making skills, productivity, etc, through collected data...
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:18 AM   #10

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True, but a boss who is completely professional may be more advantageous. He won't get sued for harassing anyone. Also, new developments in programming can even make computers pleasant to interact with. Is it worth it, is the question.
Valid, but one of the best ways to motivate your "team/company", is to pit employees against each other. Each employee will always try to out perform the other in order to gain favour with the "boss". If the "boss" is not human however, this tactic would not work. Thus while you would indeed end up with the right person managing each department, they would not be properly motivated for long...
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