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AI unlocks the door to ancient mysteries, as 2,000 year-old Roman scrolls decoded

AI unlocks the door to ancient mysteries, as 2,000 year-old Roman scrolls decoded


Superhuman AI [email protected]

Source: Vesuvius Challenge
A centuries-old secret lost to volcanic ashes has been rediscovered with the help of AI. After former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman’s family home burned down in California fires a few years ago, a fascinating idea took hold in his mind: could the AI algorithms similar to those being developed at GitHub be used to decode ancient Roman scrolls damaged by volcanic ash?
Known as the Herculaneum papyri, the artifacts are a collection of scrolls that were buried inside an Italian villa by the same volcanic eruption that destroyed the city of Pompeii in 79 A.D. The scrolls were preserved under the debris of the volcanic eruption but were left unreadable due to the charring.
Fast forward some 2,000 years, Friedman blended his love of the scrolls with his knowledge of AI and launched the Vesuvius Challenge in early 2023, a competition in which people around the world competed to decode the ancient Herculaneum papyri.
And after ten long months of presumably very hard competing, an overjoyed Friedman announced yesterday that the project had succeeded. Fifteen columns from a scroll had been deciphered with the help of AI, containing in them text from a philosopher who writes about music, food, and how to enjoy life’s pleasures.
The findings mark a major technological milestone, as potentially thousands of other scrolls and ancient artifacts around the world from various time periods could become readable thanks to the breakthrough. Friedman intends to continue the prize and extend its mission to decoding the rest of the scrolls.

Posted on: February 7, 2024, 6:31 am Category: Uncategorized

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