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Uh Oh: New Software Cracks 90% of CAPTCHAs

Vicarious, an AI startup, has better eyesight than your grandma.

Uh Oh: New Software Cracks 90% of CAPTCHAs
[Image: Flickr user CompleteMerchandise]

A small Bay Area company called Vicarious has created a technology that can decipher 90% of CAPTCHAs, those ubiquitous distorted letter and number codes that are meant to verify that you are, indeed, human.

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The decoder is the first iteration of a full visual perception system that, Vicarious’s cofounder D. Scott Phoenix says, will eventually automate “anything people do with their eyes right now.” That could include reading an address on Google Street View, spotting cancer on a CT scan, or identifying faces in a crowd.

Vicarious – Turing Test 1: Captcha from Vicarious Inc on Vimeo.

As futuristic as that sounds, color Luis von Ahn, one of the creators of the CAPTCHA, unimpressed. He provided MIT Technology Review a list of roughly 30 previous attempts to break CAPTCHA codes.

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.

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