Luis von Ahn
Chances are that those of us who use the internet have met one of Luis von Ahn’s inventions, the reCaptcha, those random, skewed letters which we have to type correctly before entering some websites thus proving that we are a human, not a software bot. Did you know that by typing a reCaptcha you’re helping to digitise old books? Many of Von Ahn’s research interests focus on ‘human computation’: methods that combine human brainpower with computers to solve problems that neither could master alone. His latest project is to translate the web into the world’s major languages.Help translate the web and learn a language
Photo credit: Frederick M. Brown/ Getty Images
Manuela Veloso, Professor of Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is developing a new type of robot, the CoBot. These machines are designed as helpful companions to humans, especially in office environments, to deliver mail, fetch coffee, or guide visitors. The Cobots are acutely aware of their perceptual, physical and reasoning limitations. So if there is something a CoBot cannot do, for instance press an elevator button, it will proactively ask for help from a human nearby. Is the future of robotics ‘the asking machine’?Veloso: CoBots
Peter Swirski is a critic and culture theorist specialising in American literature and society, as well as a leading scholar of the celebrated Polish science fiction writer and philosopher Stanislaw Lem. Swirski is currently affiliated with University of Missouri-St. Louis, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and Thesaurus Poloniae Research Fellowship Program in Cracow, Poland. He suggests that, eventually, we will have not just authors, but also ‘computhors’, computer authors. Computhors will challenge our ideas of literature, originality and taste, and could even evolve into independent entities.Swirski: American Utopia and Social Engineering in Literature, Social Thought, and Political History
SIXTY SECOND IDEA TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Peter Swirski suggests that we should have edible gourmet books. This has been prompted by the incessant media suggestions that the printed book is about to give up the ghost, as well as by news about illiteracy and world hunger. So if, after reading a book, you could consume it with relish, you would be fighting illiteracy and world hunger at once. And it would make publishers work harder: they would have to look for that elusive combination of artistic and gastronomic qualities to attract the largest numbers of readers-eaters.
In Next Week’s Programme:
Is New York the most selfish city in the world? The Forum goes to the Big Apple to ask writer Jeffrey Eugenides, neuroscientist Heather Berlin and entomologist Mark Moffett.