Whatcha CAPTCHA-ing There, Cheeta?

There's an old saying that if you gave a million monkeys a million typewriters and at least a million years, eventually they'd type the Collected Works of Shakespeare. It's  a way to illustrate a slim, but not infinitely impossible likelihood of anything. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have decided to try to use a similar vast but unfocused pool of available typing skills to digitize books- they're using the "CAPTCHA" test on websites to decipher printed words from important books and digitize them. 

Researchers estimate that about 60 million of those nonsensical jumbles are solved everyday around the world, taking an average of about 10 seconds each to decipher and type in.

Instead of wasting time typing in random letters and numbers, Carnegie Mellon researchers have come up with a way for people to type in snippets of books to put their time to good use, confirm they're not machines and help speed up the process of getting searchable texts online.

"Humanity is wasting 150,000 hours every day on these," said Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. He helped develop the CAPTCHAs about seven years ago. "Is there any way in which we can use this human time for something good for humanity, do 10 seconds of useful work for humanity?"

I don't know how to break this to you: From now on, you're the monkey.
Tags:  CAPTCHA, cap, here, eta, AP