June 24, 2012

Article: A Start-Up Bets on Human Translators Over Machines

From http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/a-computer-scientist-banks-on-human-superiority-over-machines

A Start-Up Bets on Human Translators Over Machines
June 19, 2012

Language does not come naturally to machines. Unlike humans, computers cannot easily distinguish between, say, a river bank and a savings bank. Satire and jokes? Algorithms have great trouble with that. Irony? Wordplay? Cultural context? Forget it.

That human edge in decoding what things mean is what a computer scientist turned entrepreneur, Luis von Ahn, is betting on. His start-up, Duolingo, which opened to the public on Tuesday, proposes to put armies of language learners to work translating text on the Web.

For the learners, Duolingo offers basic lessons, followed by sentences to translate, one at a time, from simple to more difficult. For online content providers wanting translations, Duolingo offers, for now at least, free labor. Because it is still in its early days, there are no independent assessments available of how accurate or efficient it can be.

Read the full article at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/a-computer-scientist-banks-on-human-superiority-over-machines

Watch a TED talk by Mr. von Ahn at http://blog.ted.com/2011/12/06/massive-scale-online-collaboration-luis-von-ahn-on-ted-com

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