Play games, make smarter computers

According to a university news release, 2006 MacArthur Genius Award winner and pioneer in the field of human computation, Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon, has launched a web site that uses four fun and simple online games that he hopes people will play in order to make computers smarter.

By playing these online games-with-a-purpose, or GWAPs, people can use their built-in narrative and pattern matching powers to contribute data that will make, for example, search results for pictures and music more accurate.

Web sites like Galaxy Zoo and Amazon's Mechanical Turk also pair biological and machine computation in a similar way to get specific informational jobs done.

But even if you're unfamiliar with the concept, chances are you've seen von Ahn's work before. He is the creator of CAPTCHAS, those distorted letter puzzles used to guard web sites from machine interlopers on the Web.

Hat tip: Roland Piquepaille