What are you doing with your spare cycles? You know, the bits of time you spend on the web when you’re not really being productive? Maybe you’re waiting for a file to download. Maybe you’re playing a game. Maybe you’re even filling out a form.
All of these little moments could in fact be put to good use.
In some cases, they are. And you might not even know it.
For instance, when you type out a Captcha — those little squiggly words on a web form you transcribe to prove you’re human — you are in fact transcribing a word from a scanned book. A word that is illegible to a computer’s eye. Here, you’re simultaneously proving you are a human being (not a robot), and also doing a good deed (helping to transcribe text).
You can thank today’s guest for that little innovation. Luis von Ahn — professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and expert in the field of human computation — explores the little innovations on the web that are harnessing the power of millions to change the wo