EC 831 / TED Talks

Genius at Work: Luis von Ahn

The other night I watched Luis von Ahn’s TED Talk on Duolingo: The Next Chapter in Human Computation.  It was remarkable.  Von Ahn is remarkable!   Duolingo is his solution to making the internet accessible in every language.  And a free solution (rather than paying for professional translators).  Basically, as the app teaches you the basics to a language, you are taking part in the translation of the web.  I don’t really get how it technically works (his TED talk does explain it somewhat), but the app is fantastic, as is the website.  I am working on Spanish and French.  It offers French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portugese.  I only wish there was Mandarin offered, as I would love to continue pursuing this language skill.  It would be an excellent resource for any language teacher.  Plus, it’s free!

Duolingo isn’t von Ahn’s only innovation.  He is also the creator of RECAPTCHA, a free anti-bot system that is digitizing books while you fill in the little one or two word answers during password security checks on websites.  Genius!


6 thoughts on “Genius at Work: Luis von Ahn

  1. I still remember how I was shocked when I watched TED video in my laptop and found there was Chinese captions displayed on the screen. It’s so wonderful for an international student who is not used for quick speech in English. How smart this technology as it can judge Chinese is the most frequent language I use and display it automatically! I love this function!

  2. Harmony, thank you so much for sharing this! Learning how to speak German has been on my bucket list for years, but I’ve just never been able to find the time and energy. I checked out Duolingo last night and it is beyond amazing. I can’t believe how interactive and user friendly it is. I totally agree that Louis von Ahn is a genius at work 🙂

    • Cool! Yes, I agree, I find the set-up pretty slick. I like that it includes speaking, listening and writing in each little lesson. Glad you found it to be helpful share! (Plus, it’s a whole lot cheaper than Rosetta Stone!!)

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