At one point or another, it's likely you've taken some precious time out of your day to work for Google and you may not have even realized it. But the worst part is that you did it for free! "How can I be so gullible" you say? Well don't fret too much — a lot of people are working for Google everyday without even knowing it. But their services aren't merely benefiting Google. In fact, they've cooked up some pretty genius ways to crowdsource work which could come right back and benefit everyone.
The first product that has seen wide success is Google's reCAPTCHA service. It was originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University. Its intent was to help digitize books and other printed materials while simultaneously preventing bots from accessing your website. Creator Luis von Ahn who happened to have worked on the original Captcha concept as well, realized he had created a system which was wasting a most precious resource: human brain cycles. So he set about developing a program which could harness our capacity to decode text better than scanning software. Google bought out the service in 2009 which has helped it grow in volume. Major websites such as Facebook, CNN, Twitter, and even 4chan have utilized reCAPTCHA. The project is currently working on the digitization of The New York Times's back catalog.
A second project which can make you feel like you're sitting at a desk in one of those famous offices is Google Map Maker. Aimed at creating a more dynamic, engaging, and helpful mapping service, Google Map Maker sources its users to help mark popular locations such as neighborhoods or restaurants and link content such as reviews to them. Obviously this is an impossible task for a computer to do because it's all about the individual's opinions and experiences. Once the information is submitted, Google will authenticate the submissions and they will go live later down the line. With an extremely simple UI, Google has created a way to make you work for them which is fun and easy to do.