Catching up with Captcha

by Toby Manhire / 30 October, 2013
Researchers say a new program can crack those warped alphanumeric security codes - and it's a big step for artificial intelligence.
If you buy tickets online, you’ve probably already lost several hours of your life squinting at Captchas – the jumbles of numbers and letters distorted to form, as the acronym describes, a “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

It’s all meant to defy the touts and spammers and criminals, but the codes, as skewed as a Wellington washing line, are often near impossible to decipher.

One rather brilliant variant on the Captcha, called reCaptcha, helps in the digitisation of old texts.

But they could be an endangered species. A Californian technology company, Vicarious, says it has produced “a system that can read distorted text”, reports the New Scientist.

If their boast that it can correctly deduce more than 90% of Captchas proves true, this could represent a “technological leap”.

The program, which “uses virtual neurons connected in a network modelled on the human brain” is “more than a curiosity”, reports the NS.

“It is a step on the way to human-like artificial intelligence ... This kind of intelligence might enable things like robotic butlers, which can function in messy, human environments.”

Some reckon the future is not Captcha but Gotcha - or "Generating panOptic Turing Tests to Tell Computers and Humans Apart" - which use Rorschach inkblot-pattern tests.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

A post-mortem on Todd Barclay and Matt McCarten's fiascos
76497 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Politics

A post-mortem on Todd Barclay and Matt McCarten's …

by Jane Clifton

In the catalogue of disaster, is a Todd Barclay worse than a Matt McCarten?

Read more
The Trump family's Kremlin connection
76655 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z World

The Trump family's Kremlin connection

by Paul Thomas

From “nothing to see here” to a Cold War-era spy story played out in real life, the Trump family’s Kremlin connection is a source of fascination.

Read more
The Journey – movie review
76661 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

The Journey – movie review

by James Robins

A van isn’t a great vehicle for a drama on how old enemies ended the Troubles.

Read more
Gaylene Preston on the difficulties of filming at the United Nations
76664 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Gaylene Preston on the difficulties of filming at …

by David Larsen

Tracking Helen Clark’s tilt for the top job at the United Nations, Gaylene Preston documented the creatures of the diplomatic world.

Read more
Jackie van Beek puts the gags aside for The Inland Road
76815 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Jackie van Beek puts the gags aside for The Inland…

by Russell Baillie

Best known for her comedy roles, Jackie van Beek takes a dramatic detour in her feature-directing debut.

Read more
Parisian Neckwear plays the long game, even as its centenary approaches
76427 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Small business

Parisian Neckwear plays the long game, even as its…

by Rob O'Neill

Parisian Neckwear, founded in 1919, has survived depression, war, deregulation and a deluge of cheap imports. How? Just feel the cloth.

Read more
David Tamihere case: Key witnesses' doubts about murder of Swedish tourists
76738 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z Crime

David Tamihere case: Key witnesses' doubts about m…

by Donna Chisholm

Nearly 30 years after young Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen disappeared in the Coromandel key witnesses say the mystery haunts them.

Read more
Modern slavery and tourism: when holidays and human exploitation collide
76728 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

Modern slavery and tourism: when holidays and huma…

by The Conversation

With the advent of orphanage tourism, travellers think they're doing good. But they can often just be lining the pockets of the orphanages' owners.

Read more