Software beats CAPTCHA, the web’s ‘are you human?’ test
Are you human? It just got a lot harder for websites to tell. An artificial intelligence system has cracked the most widely used test of whether a computer user is actually a software bot. And according to its designers, it is more than a curiosity – it is a step on the way to human-like artificial intelligence.
Asking people to read distorted text is a common way for websites to determine whether or not a user is human. These CAPTCHAs – which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – can theoretically take on any form, but the text version has proven effective in stopping spam and malicious software bots.
That’s because software has trouble deciphering text when letters are warped, overlapping or obfuscated by random lines, dots and colours. Humans, on the other hand, can recognise nearly endless variations of a letter after having only seen it a few times.
Vicarious, a start-up firm in Union City, California, announced this week that it has built an algorithm that can defeat any text-based CAPTCHA – a goal that has long eluded security researchers. It can pass Google’s reCAPTCHA, regarded as the most difficult, 90 per cent of the time, says Dileep George, co-founder of the firm. And it does even better against CAPTCHAs from Yahoo, Paypal and CAPTCHA.com.
George says the result isn’t as important as the methods, which he and CEO Scott Phoenix hope will lead to more human-like AI.
Mix-and-match nanoparticles self-assemble into exotic multifunctional materials, guided by DNA
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a general approach for combining different types of nanoparticles, guided by synthetic DNA to self-assemble into large-scale composite materials.
The technique opens many opportunities for mixing and matching particles with different magnetic, optical, or chemical properties to form new, multifunctional materials or materials with enhanced performance for a wide range of potential applications.
[read more] [picture Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory]
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