Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great Things

Last night we watched Nova Science Now. I love that show! PBS really has some great things going on. They did this profile on Luis Von Ahn, a 30 year old genius professor who invented those annoying morphed nonsense words you have to type in as a password, often to comment on a blog or crackbook. That's to prevent computer generated spam, because a computer can't recognise those words. Pretty nerdy but kind of cool.

But that's not all! You know sometimes you have to type in 2 words, and sometimes you get nervous because one of those words are so morphed and fuzzy you can't tell what it is, but it works anyway? He saw people wasting so much time on these, and decided there had to be a way to put it to work. In our effort to catalog all existing text by scanning them into computers and translating them, a problem occured because some text is so old or morphed that a computer can't recognize it.

So every time you type in 2 of the password thingys, you are actually translating for the computer and adding to the preservation of our human culture!!!


The funny thing was, the presentation started off as showing this guy as a total slacker that only watched TV and played video games. Immediately you start to think, what a loser, he must live in his parent's basement, his only friend a blow up doll. But then you see his gaming system (5 flat screens, lots of cash), you meet his fiancee, and you see him driving his porche and lecturing in a hall. What a misjudgment on my part!

This man is great because he does what he loves. Wooed by all the big IT companies, his passion was to teach, so he passed it up and made himself what he is today. Wow, there is so much hope! So for all the doom and gloom about inequity, hopelessness and apathy, here is a great example of what we are capable of!

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