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Computing the incomputable with human processing units

Corney, Jonathan and Annamalai Vasantha, Gokula Vijayumar and Lynn, Andrew and Jagadeesan, Ananda Prasanna and Acur Bakir, Nuran and Smith, Marisa and Agarwal, Anupam (2013) Computing the incomputable with human processing units. In: Intelligent interactive technologies and multimedia. Communications in computer and information science, 276 . Springer, pp. 14-24. ISBN 9783642374623

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Initially commercial crowdsourcing services (such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk) were focused largely on providing micro-labor services for tasks such as image labeling and text processing. However it is becoming increasingly apparent that these services can also be regarded as providing parallel, on-demand, networks of (so-called) ‘Human Processing Units’ (HPUs). Such services are able to provide specialist computational facilities in a manner analogous to the way Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) support the specialist process of high speed rendering. This paper describes how this new technology could extend the functionality of mechanical CAD/CAM or PLM systems. Crucial to the commercial feasibility of such systems is the ability to access networks of HPUs where engineering data can be processed securely (unlike open crowdsourcing sites such as mTurk). The paper reports the initial results of work done to establish the feasibility of a proposed architecture for integrating HPUs into desktop CAD that uses established BPO centers in rural India to provide a secure source of geometric intelligence.