[Nfbc-info] Google has a way to do away with Captcha

Nancy Lynn freespirit.stl at att.net
Thu Dec 4 12:38:11 UTC 2014

I don't think this will be any easier for us than the actual capchas were.

from Nancy Lynn freespirit.stl at att.net
-----Original Message----- 
From: therese gardner via Nfbc-info
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2014 5:20 AM
To: nfbc-info at nfbnet.org
Subject: [Nfbc-info] Google has a way to do away with Captcha

Hello All:

A friend came across this article on Googles new approach to CAPTCHA. I
found it of much interest. Suspect screen readers will find this new
interface to be quite difficult to manipulate as well.

Your thoughts?


No More Word Puzzles: Google Can Tell You're Human With One Click

Old CAPTCHAs required the user to decipher complicated word puzzles in order
to verify that they were not an automated bot. Google

itoggle caption Google

A squiggly word puzzle pops up as you're trying to buy concert tickets. You
stare at the words, scratching your head, as time disappears for you to
purchase those tickets. Your first few attempts are utter failures, and you
wonder why confirming your humanity on the Internet has to be so difficult.

Those mind-bending days are over. Google announced Wednesday the launch of
"No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA" which gets rid of CAPTCHAs - those complicated
distorted word puzzles - and can tell you're not a robot with just one
click. Now the person just has to click a checkbox next to the statement
"I'm not a robot."

With this new technology, Google says it can tell the difference between a
human and an automated program simply by the way in which the person moves
the mouse in the moments before the click. But in some rare cases, one click
might not deliver confirmation, and a pop-up window will require users to
solve distorted text.

New reCAPTCHAs do away with word puzzles and allow people to confirm they're
human by simply checking a box. Google

itoggle caption Google

On mobile devices, the new reCAPTCHA works a little differently because
there is no movement prior to tapping a button on a touch screen. Instead of
checking a single box, users are asked to select all the images that
correspond with a clue. For example, the clue could be a picture of a cat
and the user would choose the images that match it among images of cats,
dogs and hamsters.

Snapchat, WordPress and video game sales site Humble Bumble have already
adopted the software. Google says that in the past week over 60 percent of
WordPress' traffic and over 80 percent of Humble Bumbles traffic on
reCAPTCHA got through with just the checkbox.

Vinay Shet, the product manager for Google's reCAPTCHA team, told Wired.com
that the new reCAPTCHA will save users time.

On mobile devices, Google's new reCAPTCHA software prompts users to match a
clue with corresponding images. Google

itoggle caption Google

"For most users, this dramatically simplifies the experience," Shet says.
"They basically get a free pass. You can solve the CAPTCHA without having to
solve it."

But Google didn't develop this software just to make people's lives easier.
Last year, artificial intelligence startup Vicarious announced it had
developed software that can solve any type of CAPTCHA with at least 90
percent accuracy. Before that, spammers hired teams of CAPTCHA solvers in
places like Russia and Southeast Asia. They paid them sweatshop wages -
about 75 cents for every 1,000 CAPTCHAs solved.

CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and
Humans Apart) were developed in 2000 to protect websites from spam and
abuse. By confirming a user is human, CAPTCHAs stopped automated bots from
creating fake email addresses to spam you or from snatching up all the
tickets to a concert.

Early CAPTCHAs had evenly spaced letters and numbers that computers could
easily decipher. As CAPTCHAs became more advanced they used scrunched up
characters to make it more difficult for computers to translate.

Luis von Ahn, an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon
University who helped develop CAPTCHA, realized that CAPTCHAs were wasting
people's time and brain power.

"Approximately 200 million of these are typed every day by people around the
world. Each time you type one of these, essentially you waste about 10
seconds of your time," he told NPR in 2008. "If you multiply that by 200
million, you get that humanity as a whole is wasting around 500,000 hours
every day, typing these annoying squiggly characters."

So he came up with a way to kill two birds with one stone. His software,
reCAPTCHA, used CAPTCHAs to digitize old books and newspapers. The two words
shown come directly from scanned books. The company was sold to Google in

But programs were built to decode those too. Vicarious' software is one of
the first that can separate and distinguish each letter.

Google has been reworking its CAPTCHAs since 2013. On Valentine's Day, the
company tested its new software by showing users undistorted words like
"Love" and "Flowers" and relied on "advanced risk analysis" to distinguish
between humans and bots. The new system measures the person's entire
engagement with the CAPTCHA - before, during and after they interact with

While Google's new reCAPTCHAs will inevitably save the user time and a
headache, it raises privacy concerns. Google already has access to droves of
personal information, but now it can identify a person by simple movements.
However, Shet says Google will only be able to track a user's movements over
the reCAPTCHA widget and not the entire Web page.

Samantha Raphelson is a digital news intern at NPR.org. You can reach out to
her on Twitter.

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