Utilizing Human Computational Power by Games?

I just watched this great video of a Google Tech Talk by Luis von Ahn; who is a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Luis von Ahn developed reCAPTCHA, a new form of CAPTCHA that also helps digitize books. In reCAPTCHA, the images of words displayed to the user come directly from old books that are being digitized; they are words that optical character recognition could not identify and are sent to people throughout the Web to be identified. He also was awarded many fellowships and awards like the MacArthur Fellowship (a.k.a., the "genius award").

He came up with really interesting thoughts on how to use humans to identify and tag images on Google’s image database, and more importantly, how to do it for free! 🙂 When people play, they help label images on the Web with descriptive keywords. These keywords can be used to significantly improve the accuracy of image search. There are, of course, algorithms behind to prevent cheating and to prevent wrong tags.

This talk introduces a paradigm for utilizing human processing power to solve problems that computers cannot yet solve. The idea is to make the people want to help this verification process by actually turning it into an enjoyable and fun game!

In this video, he talks about the ESP game, the PeekaBoom, and the Verbosity, however new games are added continuously, which have similar ideas.(They are all Symmetric or Asymmetric Verification Games)

Give them a try at www.gwap.com, be warned though, they can be really addictive! 😀 (There have been people playing this for 12 hours a day! :D)

OK, I admit, I have been playing these games for 45 minutes myself now 😀 The “Tag a Tune” one got me playing it for a long time 🙂

Human Computation: Games With A Purpose” (July 26, 2006; approx. 50 min)

If only we could do that for all things in life.. We would have an enormous amount of verified, quality data in our hands.. It would make the robots much more human-like since they would know common sense knowledge, and would also open up many opportunities towards the development of Computer Science.

By the way, have a look at his website and his blog, if you are interested.


1 Comment

  1. Joan said,

    May 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Hi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for writing. I will certainly be subscribing to your site.

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