Introducing CAPTN – CAPTCHA for the next generation

strengthWe all know of the ubiquitous CAPTCHA; those horrendous looking images that are designed to keep robots from submitting forms with spam in them because it is assumed that the robots cannot read the messed up images.  The problem is, of course, that humans can't read them either.  We're just better at guessing what the letters are.  CAPTCHA, if you're wondering, stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."  A Turing Test is a test where a computer is able to sufficiently mimic a human to the point where another human cannot tell the difference between the two.  CAPTCHA is the exact opposite.  Its purpose is specifically to determine who is a machine and who is a human when user generated content is placed on a web site.

Because of the problem that people have reading CAPTCHA images, meaning that they are having difficulty proving they are human, there have been some alternatives suggested.  One of the ones that intrigues me is the use of 3D CAPTCHA.  I first read about it on a CNET article.  What it basically does is use 3D images for CAPTCHA tests.  The human brain is extremely adept at processing 2D images as 3D images.  In other words, whether we're looking at the gifted horse in the mouth or simply a horse's ass, we know it's a horse.  A computer has a hard time making that translation.

However, perhaps there's a better way.  Behavior is probably one of the hardest things of all for computers to mimic because human thought is not easily distilled into a formula.  Yes, you can put someone on a bell curve and predict what a likely behavior would be, but I have my doubts as to whether human thought can ever be programmed.  And so I would think that behavioral testing would be the best type of Turing test to do.

The problem is that you are having a computer, the same type of computer that is unable to completely mimic human behavior, as the judge of who is a human and who is not.  So I have devised a Turing test that will solve all of that.  I call it CAPTN, pronounced Captain.  It stands for Completely Automated Public Test for Nerds.  In other words, it tests whether or not a nerd is behaving like a nerd.

If you look on the comments forms you see that there is now several checkboxes there and you are asked to check off the individual bits necessary to specify the requested number.  It works under the theory that it will be so under-utilized by the rest of the web that there will be no point in spammers building something to counteract it.

And I predict that nerds are so prone to proving their tech-worthiness that they'll need to post a comment simply to state that they can count in binary.

9 Thoughts to “Introducing CAPTN – CAPTCHA for the next generation”

  1. In case anyone is wondering, yes, it is a joke when I say that it is CAPTCHA for the next generation. And no, it is not a joke, when I say that nobody else is going to use it, it will not catch on, and no spammer will take the time to defeat it.

  2. Surely it is an interesting idea, but how about the normal people? Also the computer might be programmed to guess the answer 🙂 It would take much less than reading a complicated captcha with some background and some lines set with random coordinates.

  3. Nikola, it’s easy to defeat, but bear in mind that this is half a joke. It’s a joke because it’s a little silly, but it’s not a joke because it has stopped 13 bots so far. AgBorkowsi’s post notwithstanding. 🙂

  4. CAPTCHA is still very effective and like any new tool humans need to work at it to get better. Historians with document fragments post them as CAPTCHA and people can try to work out what the letters say thus moving the discipline forward. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. On the other hand, any new system which can differentiate between dynamic intelligence (i.e. humans) and static intelligence (i.e. robots) is a good thing, but to keep ahead of the Matrix, humans will need ever more sophisticated means for differentiation as good programmers can crack these systems too.

  5. I like the way “email address” is not a valid input for the “email address” box. When the onchange event goes through it blanks itself

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