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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Intuition for play and purpose

Luis Von Ahn, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University is putting the collective intelligence of internet users to good use, and he's doing it in a resonant way: games. Von Ahn devised two easy online games, The ESP Game and Phetch that put active users together in an internet version of charades. One person sees a photo and tries to give clues for the others to go out and find it.

Through these games, Von Ahn is giving people a fun way to solve a problem that cannot be solved by computers yet, called "human computation." The trick of these games is that descriptions for every image are logged--and stored as tags. The ESP site claims that every image on the web could be tagged in a matter of weeks should the game be played as much as other popular online games. And he very well could be on to something. During a speech at Google, Von Ahn pointed out the unharnessed potential of people playing games online....


Charles Frith said...

Nobody digs canals for a day over a day of solitaire ;)

salina said...

Hah, Charles, fair point. Maybe they could work on alternating schedules to fully achieve the elusive "total body" workout.

Thanks for your comment :)