* I’ve got my days all screwed up obviously, but welcome to TED Talk one day early!
My first computer was a Commodore 64. I got it as a present from my mom when I was eight years old, and all I wanted to do with that computer was play games. ~ Luis von Ahn ~
I’m old enough to remember the time before computers. Heck, I’m old enough to remember when electric typewriters became mainstream; we actually had more manual typewriters than electric in my high school. I was at a meeting on Saturday where “DOS” was mentioned. DOS is the acronym for “disk operating system” a program that controls the computers transfer of data to and from a hard or floppy disk. Anyone who worked with an early computer would be familiar with all the code that was required to get the simplest thing done and the flashing yellow bits against the black or blue screen.
The computers of today have certainly revolutionized the way we live and are capable of doing some amazingly wonderful things and some not so wonderful things in the wrong hands. Today’s TED Talk is about a few small but amazing things that the computer and computer engineers have brought into the world.
Luis von Ahn is the creator of duolingo and a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Duolingo is a free language-learning app that has more than 12 million users. I’m not generally a computer game player but this in one of the few that I do enjoy. Here’s a little demonstration:
Not only has Professor von Ahn brought us this free learning tool but he is a collaborating inventor of CAPTCHA invented to help keep spambots off of sites and reCAPTCHA which he speaks about here. These are both programs that most of us have met while using the interweb to buy or sign up for something. In this video he explains how reCAPTCHA is doing something amazing; converting a word into a digital form that can be processed by a computer. Helping to digitize what a computer scanner is trying (and failing) to change.
If you’re a lover of using your time productively and thoughtfully, would like to learn a new language for free, or want to learn a little something about how we’ve all helped to preserve old books or newspaper articles you’ll find this talk interesting. I know I did…in the campo.