Captcha, the tool that tests if you're a robot, is about to get much less annoying

reCAPTCHA, the company’s new robot-checking platform, will be less irritating for real humans

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 03 December 2014 18:41 GMT

It’s a site familiar to internet users around the world: fuzzy, hard to read text that websites force you to write out before you can get in. But CAPTCHA, the Google technology that checks whether you’re human, is about to get a lot less annoying.

Google will has instituted a new system — which it calls ‘No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA’ — that will mean that most users won’t have to fill in the new , instead being greeted by a friendly green tick.

The system analyses users’ engagement with the CAPTCHA and their internet use around it, to determine without forcing them to identify letters whether they’re human or not. If it’s confident that they are, the new system will let them straight in.

As well as being annoying for users, Captcha, which stands for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart’, was becoming progressively worse at deciding between robots and humans, Google said. Recent research by the company showed that artificial intelligence can solve even the most difficult variant of the test with 99.8% accuracy.

The company has been working on developing the system since last year, when it published that report. It developed reCAPTCHA, which considers users’ entire engagement with the system when deciding whether to let them in, and the new API that dispenses with some of the most annoying bits of the system is the latest part of that.

The new system includes processes that ask for more clues if it is unsure whether a user is human or not, and new mobile friendly designs.

While CAPTCHA has irritated many users by delaying internet use and forcing them to stare at fuzzy words — as well as causing accessibility issues for visually impaired, elderly and dyslexic internet users — it also does good. Many Captchas include writing that computers have been unable to convert into digital text, helping Google harness the accumulated brains of everyone filling in the form to digitise books from previous centuries and add them to its archive.

The technology also occasionally shows house numbers, which helps Google add that information to Street View.

The familiar technology has even spawned internet memes. When one internet user was asked to type in the words ‘inglip summoned’ to prove he was human, Inglip quickly became jokingly referred to as a powerful force that inhabited the Captcha system.

Inglip-obsessives have even completed their own subreddit, where the best supposed communications from the god are collected.

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