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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

IMMIGRANT OF THE DAY: LUIS VON AHN - COMPUTER SCIENTIST/SPAM FIGHTER

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I happened to be watching the PBS television show Wired Science this evening (a production of Wired Magazine) and saw a really interesting interview with Luis Von Ahn, a young professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Von Ahn is a Guatemalan immigrant who has been doing some pretty amazing things.



You probably already know what he's done with CAPTCHA. In fact, if you post a comment on this blog, you'll see CAPTCHA in action. It's that little box of funny looking letters you have to copy and this is what's keeping auto-generated spam from many places on the web.



The folks at the Google Blog had some nice things to say about Dr. Von Ahn that tell a little about what he's up to now:

Today our warmest congratulations go out to a notable young computer scientist, Dr. Luis von Ahn
of Carnegie Mellon University. Based on his work in cryptography, AI,
and natural intelligence, Luis has just been recognized as a Fellow by
the MacArthur Foundation, which has granted him a "genius" award.

A major thread of his research is about human computation that can't currently be emulated by computers. (Together with colleagues he developed the CAPTCHA
system, which has of course found widespread commercial application in
preventing automated-generated spam.) He also works in the area of
cryptography known as steganography. Unlike standard encrypted
communications, a steganographic message disguises the fact that it
contains a secret; one example is a text message subtly embedded in the
bits that encode a digital photograph. He's also developing systems for
characterizing visual images in ways that can vastly improve their
searchability, and which help to build a rich database for exploring
human visual cognition. (We've developed the Google Image Labeler based
on his groundbreaking work in this area.)






Around here, we like to quote Isaac Newton's phrase about "standing on the shoulders of giants." Clearly, Luis is one of these.

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  1. Jerome's Avatar
    Watch the PBS show today (May be a re-run). Another sucessful immigrant.
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