There are the dreamers. There are the ambitious. Then there are those who choose to ignore the word as impossible all together. With billions upon billions of web pages on the internet in language upon language, it would seem that the initial goal of a more connected world perhaps is not as much of a reality as we would all like it to be. The very idea that the Internet in general would be able to be understood by every individual who has access to it is a little far-fetched…at most.
That’s why an internet startup company named Duolingo, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is attempting, you guessed it, to translate the entire Internet. But they won’t be doing it on their own. In fact, you could be part of the process.
To gain a better understanding of how the proposed idea is going to work, we have to go back to Duolingo founder Dr. Luis von Ahn. He isn’t exactly a newcomer to the world of the internet. In fact, you’ve probably interacted with one of his creations when you’re commenting on a blog or are registering for something.
CAPTCHA codes are part of his company reCAPTCHA, which was purchased by Google in 2009. von Ahn is also a professor at Carnegie Mellon University as well as a MacArthur Fellow (received in 2006) – which basically means he is the man. He has been recognized basically by every institution that a computer scientist dreams of.
So, seeing that this attempt by Duolingo is in good hands, its important to note the $15 million that the company has received from a Series B finance effort from New Enterprise Associates. The company has also gotten assistance from A Grade Investments and Union Square Ventures, according to Forbes and other sources.
Duolingo right now is a free website that teaches users English, German, French and Spanish by going through a process that is similar to the well-known Rosetta Stone service. The exercises start simple and then progress in complexity. Through an algorithm, Duolingo has users actually translate content that already exists on the internet. With enough users making the same translation, the program then assumes that it must be right.
There won’t be any Internet translations starting up just yet, as learning will be the primary focus for now. Many are going to Duolingo due to the fact that it is free. But as Tech Crunch says, they will even start charging users for the service (hopefully not as much as Rosetta Stone).
With the new funding and interest, Duolingo could be the pioneer of an Internet-wide translation effort. How users will react to it remains to be seen, but knowing von Ahm’s direction, the impossible could definitely go out the window.
Being both a writer in tech blogs and content provider and sharer of local ADT options, Sophia Lirendo is an avid fan of crowd sourcing efforts and the processes behind them. Leave you comments on this piece below.