Friends at Berkeley’s School of Information (formerly SIMS) are building something intriguing. It’s called Mycroft and it replaces Web site banner ads with tiny tasks for users to complete. In aggregate, all these tiny completed tasks can solve massive problems that computers can’t tackle on their own.
Here’s an example:
It’s still a student project but already you can publish the banners on your own site. Details here.
To take it further, consider: Mycroft presents each puzzle piece to multiple users to verify the solution(s). So the second or third time a puzzle piece appears, why not present it in a different setting: not as a Web banner ad, but as a captcha test for someone creating a new account on a Web site? (Captcha tests are those “type the letters you see in this scrambled image” tasks that verify you’re a human.)
So when verifying that a new user is human, Web sites could offer a Mycroft test and boost their revenues or help solve problems for nonprofits — with no extra work or hassle for users. That’s powerful stuff.