Tech millionaires give away cash prizes
By chance, the researchers connected with tech entrepreneur Nat Friedman — and he had an idea: “I proposed sharing this problem they’d been working on for years with the world. My background is open source,” I was the CEO of GitHub at the time. It was an obvious proposition for me. Lee: Can we make data accessible to the most talented people in the world and maybe build a community that can take on this task?”
Friedman brings together other entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and together they offer a cash prize: $700,000 to the first team to successfully read an entire scroll using artificial intelligence. Among the thousands of participants, Youssef Nader, an artificial intelligence student from Berlin, was one of the first to decipher a complete word and won part of the prize money. Word: Porphyras – ancient Greek word meaning “purple.” Only the American student Luc Variator, who read the same word independently of NaderIt was a few days faster.
This achievement is not just exciting AI enthusiasts
For Würzburg linguist Kilian Fleischer, the importance of this achievement cannot be overstated: “It was the moment I myself had been waiting for 15 years because it was not clear whether it was actually possible to read the text in these charred lists…” . “When I found out, I was thrilled, and I was very happy as a papyrologist because the significance of this achievement became immediately clear to me. Lost ancient works, and widely lost ancient literature, will now come to light.” Fleischer had professional contact with Brent Sales for years, who made the first scans of the papyrus.
Participants in the Vesuvius Challenge have until the end of the year to decipher the complete scroll. But for Kilian Fleischer, this is just the beginning. He hopes that the breakthroughs will lead to new excavations in Pompeii. Because in the villa of Lucius Calpurnius Piso there are still several undiscovered rooms containing hundreds of additional scrolls.
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”