Thursday, September 24, 2009

We ARE Smarter Than Computers...Phew!

Not only do we as humans have a unique ability to be creative, but we also have the ability to perceive. Hey computers, take that! Just kidding, I need my computer, and I love everything it does for me.

Anyway, PBS Nova did a segment about a brilliant, down-to-Earth man named Luis von Ahn. At only 30 years old, he has made technological leaps and bounds that effect anyone using the Internet. You know those things that come up, for instance, when you post a comment on a blog or when you try to access certain websites? They look like this:

The're called "captchas," and Luis created them to combat Yahoo spammers. That's all well and good and very interesting, but here's the even cooler part: Luis thought that this was just a waste of people's time and after calculating the exact amount of time that was actually wasted, he came up with another brilliant idea. When older books are digitized, computers don't recognize all of the words. So, Luis created a project in which the computer's unread words are put into these captcha boxes, and we identify them as we type in these words, letters, and numbers! Since I heard about this, I am no longer annoyed by these things and feel like I'm participating in a very worthy endeavor. Thanks, Luis! And, NOVA, you make my brain happy.

You can watch the segment here.

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