Luis von Ahn, CEO of Duolingo and one of the inventors of CAPTCHA, explains how reCAPTCHA harnesses the abilities of both humans and computers in order to accomplish tasks such as the digitization of old books.
Back at the beginning of the century, Luis von Ahn helped invent CAPTCHA, the online security device featuring squiggly letters that you have to re-type in order to prove you're human. In 2007, von Ahn invented reCAPTCHA, a new form of CAPTCHA that serves a second purpose: the digitization of old books.
Luis von Ahn describes the model for the free language-learning platform, Duolingo. The idea, he says, goes back to his childhood, where he imagined a model for a gymnasium that sustained itself by reselling people-produced energy. Von Ahn is the CEO and Co-founder of Duolingo.
Luis von Ahn is a Guatemalan computer scientist and tech entrepreneur. At the beginning of the century, he worked with Manuel Blum to invent CAPTCHAs, computer-generated tests that humans are routinely able to pass but that computers have not yet mastered. CAPTCHA is used mostly for online security, though has proven useful in other ways. In 2007, von Ahn founded reCAPTCHA, which utilized CAPTCHA technology to help with the digitization of books. ReCAPTCHA was sold to Google in 2009.
Von Ahn's latest venture is Duolingo, a free language-learning software for which he is Co-Founder and CEO.
Von Ahn is a graduate of Duke University, earned his Ph.D from Carnegie Mellon University, and serves on the faculty at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship in 2009, a Sloan Fellowship in 2009, and a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship in 2007, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2012.