CNN, Buzzfeed Tap Duolingo to Translate Articles

The Pittsburgh-based startup is changing the way major publications bring news to a global audience.


We shouldn’t be the only ones who get to take a mental health break from a stressful day by enjoying articles such as “10 Videos of Dogs and Cats Who are Best Friends.” Buzzfeed has built a click-bait empire by curating irresistible content for the ADHD-addled social-media intelligentsia. The site, which uses advanced algorithms to predict what users will click, now welcomes 85 million visitors per month.

But Buzzfeed has a long-term problem: Its articles are only presented in English. The French-speaking world is thus missing out on procrastination-meth such as “Dix Vidéos Des Chiens et Des Chats qui Sont Les Meilleurs Amis.”

In order to go global, Buzzfeed is following the lead of several other companies — it’s looking to Pittsburgh’s world-class language technology community for help. Instead of using professional translators, Buzzfeed’s posts will be translated by crowds of English-learning app users around the world.

Buzzfeed is harnessing the power of Duolingo, a mobile app launched last year by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn.

On the surface, Duolingo is a language-learning app similar to Rosetta Stone. At first, users are taught basic vocabulary and grammar. But as they “level up,” they’re tasked with translating texts. With 10 million users, Duolingo believes that its users will be able to translate real articles at a speed and proficiency unmatched by professional translators because the community nature of Duolingo means that people can rate the translations and offer corrections.

Buzzfeed isn’t the only website that’s interested. This morning, Duolingo announced that it will also be powering CNN’s international sites.

Another win for Pittsburgh’s language tech community. Way to go, Duolingo. Or, in the parlance of our times …


Don’t miss: For language tech, Pittsburgh is the new Silicon Valley


#Science: CMU professor has zombies on the brain


Should the zombie apocalypse happen sooner rather than later, we're going to need more good men like Timothy Verstynen. The CMU professor and fellow researcher Bradley Voytek have been using "zombie brains" as teaching models for how a human brain works. They've created three models: one for fast zombies, one for slower creatures and one for zombies who haven't been zombies all that long.

"I'm always concerned that, as a scientist, we're kind of losing the culture war or the culture battle," Verstynen told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, noting most of his colleagues have been supportive of his methods.

Verstynen knows zombies aren't real, but you can draw parallels between how a human works and how brain deterioration would impact various aspects of behavior, such as speech and motor control.

The pair is writing a book for young adults on the neuroanatomy of zombies.

"We're basically trying to fool [them] into reading and learning about the brain by talking about it in terms of zombies," Verstynen says.

Get the full scoop at the Post-Gazette.


#History: Downtown circa 1908


via reddit


Notice the incline in the background?


What’s going on tonight?


  • See the work of Transformazium, a Braddock-based art group, and other creative types, national and international, at the 2013 Carnegie International exhibition. — on view through March 16; hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

  • Head to Bar Marco to enjoy dishes prepared by Gisele Barreto Fetterman and our own Leah Lizarondo of The Brazen Kitchen at tonight’s No Menu Monday event, which benefits Grow Pittsburgh. — 5-10 p.m.

Categories: The 412