What is the Vesuvius Challenge?

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The Vesuvius Challenge is a global competition that uses machine learning and computer vision to decipher the Herculaneum Papyri, a collection of ancient scrolls that were carbonized in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79135. The challenge aims to "make history" by reading an unread scroll from Herculaneum1. The first team to read four passages will win a significant prize1. The competition was launched with the backing of Silicon Valley investors and offers prize money for significant benchmarks in decoding the long-lost Herculaneum texts from their carbonized husks by applying machine learning techniques to digital images of the scrolls5. The University of Kentucky has recruited citizen scientists to use AI to parse out words from the X-ray images of the still-rolled scrolls4. The Vesuvius Challenge has already seen some success. A 21-year-old undergraduate was awarded $40,000 as part of the Vesuvius Challenge for being the first to read a word from the scroll using machine learning4. The deadline for the Vesuvius Challenge is 11:29 pm (PST), December 31st, 20231.
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