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Spam Intelligence

I heart this story from The New Scientist about spammers applying some of the most advanced AI to beat CAPTCHAs (especially reCAPTCHA, which is the most widely used and actually harnesses the power of the millions of people solving these simple tests to digitize otherwise unrecognizable words). Well, turns out the incentive to break these systems are some of the biggest around for artificial intelligence:

He has seen bounties as high as $500,000 offered for software to break it [reCAPTCHA] – enough to attract people with the skills to the task and five times more than the Loebner Grand Prize offers to the programmer who designs a computer that can truly pass the Turing test.

How great is that? Of course the author of the article comes to the logical conclusion: “Perhaps it is time to start designing CAPTCHAs in a different way – pick problems that need solving and make them into targets to be solved by resourceful criminals.”

April 20, 2009


  • simon andrews says:

    I read that criminals were offering free porn behind scraped captchas as their own version of mechanical turk
    On a general point I think the ingenuity of criminal minds is hugely underutilised. I remember when car stereos came out with a security code – someone in London worked out that putting them in a freezer cleared the code. The thieves therefore kept on stealing them – genius.

  • Alan Wolk says:

    Given the general degree of difficulty the average person has with Captcha (I think I’m around .650 on the first attempt) the ability to circumvent it is even more impressive ;)

  • Chest Freezer For Sale says:

    I stumbled on this article on Bing even though I was looking for something similar, but I just wanted to say good stuff and I totally agree. Is there any way to subscribe to fresh content?

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