Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Word verification

Remember when car alarms first got real popular? They were supposed to make us more secure. Instead, when an alarm goes off everyone ignores them. The greater threat comes as people shut off the alarm upon entering in the car, and the criminal rushes them and puts their physical well-being into greater peril than if the car had just been unattended.

I really applaud Google's word verification system for comments. It's a great idea. First of all, in the near term, it means my blogs won't be filled with spam links for mortgages, debt relief and online betting. In the longer term, it will help solve one of the most vexing problems in machine intelligence: visual perception.

Engineers and scientists who are trying to build robots and artificial intelligences come up against a problem: people see things really well. Machines don't. It's a tough problem to crack: how to have a machine interpret the messy real world so it can act on what it sees. Some of the smartest minds are working on it, and they have some success.

Google just created a contest. The rules are to write software that can look at that word, correctly decipher it, and spit out the correct sequence. Someone will figure out how to do it. When that person does, I hope they see that their solution wins the prize for something much larger than merely being able to spam comments.

I hope they are smart enough to apply for a patent and license their technology to Sony. Or BMW.

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