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Monday, June 11, 2007

The evolution of CAPTCHA - those little word things you have to type to log in

This is an interesting look at the CAPTCHA, the small image with mixed up letters and lines that you frequently have to decipher to register or read a web page. Designed as a basic Turing test to differentiate a computer from a human, the CAPTCHA allows web administrators to block out "spam bots."

However, as computers get smarter, CAPTCHAs have gotten more complex, to the point that even humans have trouble deciphering them. The story covers two divergent solutions. One group uses the standard CAPTCHA, but uses it to help digitize old text: every time you solve a reCAPTCHA, you help translate an old book into digital form. The other solution is an image CAPTCHA, asking you to do something like "pick out the vegetable" or "select the gorilla."

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