Games to make computers smarter

The Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist who gave us Peekaboom and worked on the "distorted letter" tests called CAPTCHAs, is back with several new games. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he just launched a new site where you can play to so-called GWAPS -- short for "games with a purpose." These multi-player free online games are intended to "help improve Internet image and audio searches, enhance artificial intelligence and teach computers to see," said the researcher. But read more...

The Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist who gave us Peekaboom and worked on the "distorted letter" tests called CAPTCHAs, is back with several new games. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he just launched a new site where you can play to so-called GWAPS -- short for "games with a purpose." These multi-player free online games are intended to "help improve Internet image and audio searches, enhance artificial intelligence and teach computers to see," said the researcher. But read more...

These games have been developed by Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor at CMU's School of Computer Science and his students. For more details, please read his research projects.

A CMU news release about these "Games With a Purpose" (May 14, 2008), says the new "site initially will feature four new games and a classic called the ESP Game. The first GWAP developed by von Ahn, the ESP Game displays images to two players who each try to guess words that the other player would use to describe the image. The game improves Web image searches by generating descriptions of uncaptioned images. Google Inc. has licensed the game, which the company calls Google Image Labeler.

This classic game and the new ones are available on the gwap site. Here is the list of the new games.

  • Matchin, a game in which players judge which of two images is more appealing, is designed to eventually enable image searches to rank images based on which ones look the best;
  • Tag a Tune, in which players describe songs so that computers can search for music other than by title -- such as happy songs or love songs;
  • Verbosity, a test of common sense knowledge that will amass facts for use by artificial intelligence programs;
  • Squigl, a game in which players trace the outlines of objects in photographs to help teach computers to more readily recognize objects.

For more information about the genesis of these games, here is a link to a paper published by IEEE Computer Magazine in June 2006, "Games with a Purpose" (PDF format, 3 pages, 222 KB).

Sources: Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 14, 2008; and various websites

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