Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to translate hieroglyphics than try and determine what garbled text lies in a CAPTCHA box. We've all been annoyed by it, yet the reason it exists is to keep the spam bots from ruining our online playgrounds. Still, does it have to be so difficult? Perhaps not -- Google is introducing an easier method to prove you're a human called "No CATCHA reCAPTCHA."
A quick history lesson is in order here. Like CAPTCHA, the Google-owned reCAPTCHA user-dialogue system tasks website visitors with typing in a pair of words that appear onscreen. What's unique about it (compared to CAPTCHA) is that it's used to digitize text of old newspapers and books, so there's some additional good that comes out of it.
With "No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA," users no longer have to decipher scrambled text or numbers. Getting straight to the point, Google's new method flat out asks if you're a robot. Just check the box that says "I'm not a robot" and you've proven yourself to be a human. Easy cheesy, but how can it be effective?
That's a good question, and it has to do with what goes on in the background. The checkbox isn't really what's important here, and as Google explains it, there's a high degree of sophistication that takes place behind the scenes.
"CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text. However, our research recently showed that today’s Artificial Intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8% accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test. To counter this, last year we developed an Advanced Risk Analysis backend for reCAPTCHA that actively considers a user’s entire engagement with the CAPTCHA—before, during, and after—to determine whether that user is a human," Google explained in a blog post. "This enables us to rely less on typing distorted text and, in turn, offer a better experience for users."
That doesn't mean you've seen the end of CAPTCHA. In instances where Google's risk analysis engine can't predict with confidence that you're made of flesh and blood, it will prompt a text-based CAPTCHA (or a picture puzzle, if you're on a mobile device). In addition, it's up to website owners to decide whether they want to use the new API or not.
Some websites have already begun using the new API and are seeing positive results.