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AI helps read ancient Roman scrolls buried after volcano.

Remember the Vesuvius Challenge? The challenge by Nat Friedman to read Herculaneum scrolls which were charred by a volcano nearly 2,000 years ago. The tech nerds have done the job, with the help of AI.

What’s going on here?

The Vesuvius Challenge gets its first grand winner, reading old Roman scrolls with AI.

What does this mean?

The Vesuvius Challenge dished out a grand prize of a cool $700k to the team of Youssef Nader, Luke Farritor, and Julian Schilliger! Their submission recovered more than 2000 characters from the scrolls (the goal was to recover 4 columns of 140 characters each.)

Btw, wanna know what the part recovered in the scroll says? The author is thinking if the things that are available in lesser quantities afford more pleasure than those available in abundance. He thinks that’s not the case and writes:

as too in the case of food, we do not right away believe things that are scarce to be absolutely more pleasant than those which are abundant

Bloomberg has amazing coverage of the backstory of the challenge.

Why should I care?

Think about it: if AI can read ancient, crispy scrolls, what can't it do? Yeah, it's about Roman Empire now, but tomorrow? Who knows!

Maybe figuring out medical mysteries or even understanding signals from outer space. It's showing us that AI's not just for support chatbots and spreadsheets; it could help us solve some of the biggest puzzles out there. It's a wild ride, and AI's just getting started.

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