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Your boss may be a robot, soon

Suggestbot could help online communities such as Wikipedia and Slashdot distribute tasks.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 19:04 IST
Asian News International
Asian News International

How about a robot for a boss? Sounds funny? Well, certainly yes. After all, robots have been developed specifically to help human hands at work and more importantly to obey human commands, isn’t it?

All that seems to go in for a spin now. Developed by Dan Cosley and colleagues at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Suggestbot could help online communities such as Wikipedia and Slashdot distribute editing tasks.

Such organisations rely on members to add and edit content but, as work piles up, it can be hard even for dedicated users to pick out appropriate tasks.

It is here that Suggestbot links tasks with people's interests. It combs through thousands of Wikipedia articles with a "needs work" tag and compares them to the list of previously edited articles on a user's profile, looking for similar articles.

To test if this could increase productivity, Cosley studied the work of 91 Wikipedia editors, who had collectively requested 3094 tasks.

He tested three versions of the Suggestbot algorithm – one compared titles of "needy" articles with those in the editor's profile, the second paired people with tasks popular with editors with a similar history, and the third looked for links between needy articles and those in an editor's profile.

A random task generator was also employed to generate a task equally likely to that of the algorithms.

Two weeks after the tasks were handed out, just one per cent of the randomly chosen articles had been edited, compared to 3.4 to 4.3 per cent of the articles selected by the intelligent task recommenders.

Cosley believes combining the three strategies could increase this further.

The report appears in The New Scientist.

First Published: Feb 02, 2007 07:00 IST