I thought Amazon Mechanical Turk was one of the strangest things I've seen in a while, but Amazon is weirding me out again with their new Amazon Web Search Platform (AWSP).
AWSP is supposed to be a developer framework to innovate on top of the crawl and index data available from Alexa. As part of this package, it appears the AWSP offers ssh access to the Alexa cluster where you can write arbitrary C code.
This is either incredibly bold or absurdly foolish. On the one hand, this could be a useful platform for some developers, a utility computing server farm where you can rent machines by the CPU hour and access the incredible Web data available from Alexa. On the other hand, arbitrary C code can do arbitrary things, nicely accessing the data it is supposed to or evilly cracking the machine, fondling other people's data, and launching attacks on other servers.
You have to hand it to Amazon. They've been doing an amazing job thinking outside the box lately. But, sometimes, the box is there for a reason.
Update: In the comments, a couple people are arguing that these accounts appear to be isolated in virtual machines and that I may be overstating the risk. They might be right, perhaps I am being too paranoid, especially given that there are easier targets out there.