Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Beyond Multi-Core Processors: the Brain

Here is a must-read Wired article on Luis von Ahn and his computing techniques.

To "captcha" your attention, he coined the term CAPTCHA
for those warped words that are used to authenicate humans on websites.

But as the article points out, he really stands computing on its head with a novel angle, by looking at things in reverse: rather than using computers to help people, he invents ways that humans help computers. Particularly through games. Check out the site Games with a Purpose

Example 1:

Two English-speaking players are shown a sentence in a foreign language that neither of them speak. A list of possible English meanings appears below each word. Players try to agree upon a set of English words that forms the most coherent sentence. Translates foreign text into English without requiring anyone fluent in both languages.

This guy's creativity and talent is simply off the charts. As with any person, my mental CPU is beyond any computer but this guy's CPU is certainly beyond mine. Wow.

ps. If I have not yet convinced you to take the time and read the article, here's a quote that might pique your curiosity:

In December 2005, von Ahn demo'd his game at Google. After the presentation, Sergey Brin and Larry Page approached him. "They stayed for the whole speech, which apparently they never do, and then came up and said, ‘Hey, let's commercialize this,'" von Ahn recalls.
pps. My main takeaway from this is the genius of looking at things in a different way. e.g. Humans didn't learn to fly until we stopped trying to fly like birds. This is Inversion of Cognition of the highest order.

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