Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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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