Researchers, including one of Indian origin, have come up with a software that uses crowdsourced workers to manage email overload.
Developed by Nicolas Kokkalis and colleagues at Stanford University in California, GmailValet works by connecting a Gmail account with oDesk - a crowd-labour web platform that draws upon a comparatively skilled workforce.
Users can deal with privacy fears by installing filters that limit the access given to oDesk workers, New Scientist reported.
Once the workers are in, they examine new emails and, if appropriate, extract a task from the message, which appears in a to-do list that sits alongside the inbox on the GmailValet website like reminding the user to respond to a meeting request.
Users are encouraged to provide feedback on the tasks so that the assistants can better understand their needs.
The assistants were paid the California minimum wage of 8 dollars per hour in the initial tests.
According to the researchers, a single assistant could monitor dozens of inboxes simultaneously, though. If that proves to be the case, the service could end up costing each user as little as 1.80 dollars per day.
Aniket Kittur, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said that the development of the software is an important step forward in enabling the crowd to work on private and sensitive information, and opens the door for the crowd helping us with our personal lives in ways we wouldn't have imagined even a few years ago.
The findings will be presented at the Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing conference in San Antonio, Texas. (ANI)