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Captchas, AI, and Internet Security

For those of you who don't know, captchas are images that contain obscured letters and numbers for users to type into a text field to "prove they are human" (or just not a spam-bot). They have greatly reduced the amount of spam submitted through forms (and lessened the number of "bot" Livejournals and such that we would undoubtedly have), but I'm relatively surprised that there haven't been more creative attempts at "authorizing" yourself as a human. The following two sites have some interesting suggestions:


Pictures are a neat idea. Show a picture of a house. Say "What is this a picture of?" Also, multiple choice questions would work except for the fact that the number of choices (Y) only reduce the number of spam messages you get now (X) by Y, still giving you X/Y. Not an ultimate solution. And the more choices you add, the more people have to deduce.

Believe it or not, the people who write spam-bots are very competent programmers. They've brought OCR (optical-character recognition) to new levels of competency, among other technologies.

My proposal is that web-site owners and blog-site owners fight back in a different way. We need to harness this talent for good instead of evil. For example, think of some things that humans can do that computers can't. I'm thinking of artificial intelligence. If you can pinpoint questions that only a human can answer (for example, questions dealing with emotions), you are basically forcing the writers of spam-bots to come up with intuitive AI to counteract it. AI that, in the future, can be used by everyone. Just as virus-writers and criminal hackers help security personnel fix their holes, let's give spam-bot programmers the latent social function of furthering technological research into AI. Think about it. Every new idea is a win/win scenario. If they come up with a way around it, AI becomes more advanced. If they don't, spam is reduced.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 8th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
Love it. Brilliant idea.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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