CAPTCHA is everywhere now, it has almost become a nuisance when I'm online (especially when I'm trying to get concert tickets). However, it is a great way to determine if a user is a human or an internet bot. I wanted to take the time and do a spotlight on the inventor of CAPTCHA, Dr. Luis von Ahn. I hope that many of you will find his story inspiring.
Luis was born in Guatemala and spent his life there until graduating from the American School of Guatemala. He later attended Duke University and then Carnegie Mellon for his PhD. He founded the company reCAPTCHA (which he sold to Google in 2009). CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". reCAPHTCHA is a user-dialogue system that was developed by Luis and a team. It is a more modern version of the original CAPTCHA that he presented in 2000, when he was only 24 years old.
Aside from being a successful entrepreneur, von Ahn is also a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon and has won many prestigious awards for his excellent work. He is also one of the founders of the app DUOLINGO, that allows users to learn many different languages (I recommend it!).
It is really inspiring to see a Latino be so successful in the field of Computer Science and technology. Luis has inspired many people in his home country and now I hope more Latinos will be inspired by his work and follow his footsteps.
He recently did a great Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") and I recommend reading the thread! Here is the link: http://bit.ly/12TaHun
I will share a tiny snippet of what he shared in the discussion:
"This has been the motivation for my work - to help improve the education for people in developing and underdeveloped countries like mine.
The costs associated with education in many countries around the world make it so that instead of it being an equalizer, education allows the rich to continue growing but stifles the poor, who rarely make it to college. It is also extremely ineffective: people spend 12 years learning math and most can barely add fractions somehow! Technology now allows us to make education measurably more effective and find ways to heavily reduce costs so that everyone can have equal access. Also, it turns out that more people have access to mobiles phones in the world than to public toilets! So mobile technology helps us bring education to the hands and pockets of those who would otherwise not have access."
Follow him on social media:
Facebook - http://on.fb.me/15XGkUJ
Twitter - http://bit.ly/1wOZwzp