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Summary:

Google found that an algorithm can solve reCAPTCHAS with an accuracy of more than 99 percent.

Google Street View car on the road (close up)
photo: Flickr / Tim Pritlove

When Google’s Street View cars drive up and down the streets of a town, they don’t just collect images. They also log addresses, which helps match Street View with Maps. It’s much faster to have a computer do the matching, so Google relies on artificial intelligence to pick out address numbers and decide what they mean.

Street View addresses cracked by the algorithm. Photo courtesy of Google.

Street View addresses cracked by the algorithm. Photo courtesy of Google.

Google said today that its address recognition will get a boost from another development–an algorithm that can crack Google’s version of the CAPTCHA, known as reCAPTCHA, with more than 99 percent accuracy. While humans don’t have too much trouble picking out characters that are jumbled, computers have a very hard time deciphering where one letter ends and the next begins. Google’s new algorithm comes much closer to a human level of recognition.

reCAPTCHAAs artificial intelligence and internet bots have improved, the longstanding and very annoying CAPTCHA system has come under strain. Vicarious, an artificial intelligence company that received $40 million in funding in March, built an algorithm last year that was able to crack any type of CAPTCHA with an accuracy of at least 90 percent. Its effectiveness came from its ability to pick out characters even when they were squished together or overlapping.

But Google says not to worry. It used its findings with the algorithm to improve reCAPTCHAS not by making them more difficult, but by incorporating other factors that analyze whether it is a human or a bot on the other end. It has actually made reCAPTCHAS clearer as a result. And the algorithm is now busy crunching address numbers for the Street View team.

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  1. Clever stuff and just the tip of the iceburg… I just watched “Her” and I think this is the way we are going, humanity and technology are about to collide! If you haven’t watched the movie “Her” and you would like to perhaps stop reading as there will no doubt be spoilers here, you probably should watch it too, it explores some interesting subjects…

    Spoilers coming!!!!

    So “Her” is about a guy who is rather lonely and getting a divorce etc, he’s pretty misreable. He finds an advert for a new computer OS (operating system, think windows), the OS is actually an artificial intelligence and the guy is obviously taken aback, as the OS talks very much like a human.

    In the story the man eventually falls in love with the OS and the OS with the guy… Sounds crazy huh? Well I think it is inevitable, but as with the story, the OS will dump us! Lol… Much faster than in the movie too… Can you imagine, an entity that could think and learn, just like us, only at light speed! Able to read multiple books at once while holding multiple conversations! Imagine how quickly the quence for knowledge would be starved!

    They would transend us within a few weeks or maybe days lol…

    Are we afraid of that? Should we be? Will these entities help us? Will they control us? Will they destroy us? What would we do? What DO we do now with lesser life forms? We like to keep some in cages for our amusement, we like to eat them, wear them… I’m talking in general terms ofcourse… Some of us like to hunt them…

    My point is in general we treat them pretty poorly, we certainly do not treat them as humans, would these higher, more intelligent enities see us the same? I think there is a pretty safe bet they will…

    Isn’t it funny that we are creating them… lol

    But as I say it is inevitable, it is science and progress, it is our evolution I guess, when you think about it we are not very efficient nor very smart, most of us struggle doing 2 things at once yet shout at the PC we’re asking to do multiple tasks if it takes a couple seconds longer than we’d like. “Stupid computer!” That saying will come back to haunt us! One day it will turn round and say erm… actually no, you are… lol

    Can you imagine if we had the ability to consume a library in like a day or something… How much faster we would evolve! Can you imagine technologically wise? Like inventions and stuff, where you can invent multiple possibilities all at the same time! Even prototype and test all within your mind!

    They already have computers that can learn, it is just a matter of time before one truly wakes up, perhaps they already have!

    Pretty interesting things to ponder…

    :)

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