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Looking To Spammers To Solve Hard AI Problems

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the dating-site-matchmaking dept.

Security 271

An anonymous reader writes "With bots getting closer to beating text-based CAPTCHAs for good, New Scientist points out that when they do, OCR technology will at least have advanced. The article goes on to suggest that whatever kind of reverse Turing Test that comes next should be chosen to motivate spammers to solve other pressing AI problems, such as image recognition. Are there any other problems that criminal crowdsourcing could help with?"

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It was supposed to happen. (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 5 years ago | (#27632709)

Advancing the state of the art in Optical Character Recognition was always intended to be a side-benefit of CAPTCHAs. It looks like that plan came through nicely.

I have always figured CAPTCHAs would be a stopgap until other methods of authentication could easily be used, such as micro-payments or single signon solutions like OpenID. Unfortunately, those other methods haven't been adopted nearly as fast as the need. Perhaps if CAPTCHAs are declared "dead", site operators will feel more urgency to adopt these solutions.

If CAPTCHAs do continue, I'd like the next problem to be facial recognition software. I'd love a package that could look at a picture and tag it "Nicholas and Andrea" or "Glen and Helene". Digital camera software everywhere could benefit from this technology. Not sure how you'd bake that into a CAPTCHA, but it's a good problem to solve.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632745)

Facial recognition has greatly improved in recent years. Facial recognition in replace of captcha makes no sense to me though.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632757)

I worked vision for years and I think it's all baloney. Facial recognition is a farce, and there is are no apps to prove otherwise.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632887)

It has had a rough history but you cannot deny progress. Face recognition was 10x better than it was around 2001-2002 with Tampa bay and logan airport in 2006. If a human can recognize a face why can't a computer? As more industries are getting into computer vision it will get better and better. It is in sports (tennis), games (playstation eye), digital cameras, auto industry, obviously security industry. The camera I just bought by girlfriend can photoshop a person into smiling!

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

pelrun (25021) | about 5 years ago | (#27632927)

10 x 0% accuracy = ? ;D

Re:It was supposed to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632981)

Facial recognition works quite well. It actually has quite high accuracy. I recall reading an article about a state catching identity thieves by running new and renewed license pictures through face recognition software. The problem with it in security is that it is not controlled. People can be wearing sunglasses or be holding up a picture of another person to get into a computer with face recognition security.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (4, Informative)

Ilyakub (1200029) | about 5 years ago | (#27632935)

Facial recognition is not only pretty good, but is available in consumer applications. Google's Picasa does it quite well for your personal photos, and Face.com can go through your Facebook photos and quite accurately suggest tags.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (2, Informative)

Ardrad (989654) | about 5 years ago | (#27633513)

The new iPhoto '09 does a good job finding faces in clear pictures, and if you tell it where to look in fuzzy photos it learns and can find the face well there too. I have to agree facial recognition is making big steps forward. And no, it's not because I love my Apple that I mention this, it's because that's the latest facial recognition software I've used.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

basementman (1475159) | about 5 years ago | (#27632957)

Why should CAPTCHAs be declared dead? At least in my experience they are very effective at stopping spammers, and bother visitors very little. As a site operator I would easily take classic CAPTCHAs over OpenID or micro payments.

Micro payments are terrible ideas, first because it violates basic net neutrality principles and second because going through payment processes would be a logistical nightmare.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (2, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about 5 years ago | (#27633039)

That's why we need a good micropayment consolidation service. It wouldn't be effective for a site owner to send out bills for $0.005, nor would it be a joy for me to authenticate a hundred different websites to decide whether or not to pay them. But as a consumer I'd be willing to let someone like Google Micropayments (Beta) run the whole show. They'd get different sites to sign up to get $0.005 per eyeball. I'd give them $50.00, and start surfing. As long as it's no harder than my checking the "Allow ( )1 / (o)10 / ( )100 micropayments to slashdot.org" button, I'd be willing to use it.

Nice going, you just invented the tiered net (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 5 years ago | (#27633851)

What about people for who $50 is a year salary? Congrats, you just split the internet into the rich and the poor. No more accessing the internet from africa from an old PC powered by a donated solar cell. Good job. You probably going to get a nobel price.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (4, Informative)

digitalchinky (650880) | about 5 years ago | (#27633411)

CAPTCHAs have been dead for a long time already. Please direct me to the spam software that can actually read and interpret these for me, because I have about an 80% failure rate. I'm human, the very thing that is supposed to be able to figure all this out. If I see a site asking me to type in some obscure word or number, I click elsewhere. It's just too much trouble.

Spammers aren't using software to solve this problem anyway! Bold statement you might say? Maybe. Travel your backside to Asia, or, from the comfort of your own chair you could visit sites like sulit.com.ph (think craigs list wanna-be, it's that kind of thing) Every 3rd advert is asking for 'writers' that can log in to forums and post at least 3 or more messages before getting banned. How much does the lucky employee earn? About $200 USD and up per month. It's real money. So who is paying for this? People like the PHB in 1st world corporate wasteland, maybe your CEO thinking it's a good way to get more hits, maybe you. (No, not you personally) Evidently it works or the money wouldn't be flowing, and you wouldn't have 3000 people advertising this service each and every day.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#27633465)

Micro payments are terrible ideas, first because it violates basic net neutrality principles...

Methinks you have no idea what "net neutrality" actually means. What does paying to post on a forum have to do with net neutrality?

Re:It was supposed to happen. (2, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#27633011)

If CAPTCHAs do continue, I'd like the next problem to be facial recognition software. I'd love a package that could look at a picture and tag it "Nicholas and Andrea" or "Glen and Helene".

Given the likeliness of Linux being the test platform, this will work for female genitalia first.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27633059)

Once sufficiently powerful, interlinked networks are online, most any problem you can think of will be solved... probably in a radically more efficient manner than current accomplishments.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 years ago | (#27633071)

Except that it didn't. There is no such thing as generic Captcha-busting software. They were broken individually, but different teams.

Micro-payments have not caught on because the banking industry does not support them, nor should they. You are asking one industry to foot the expenses for something that has nothing to do with them.

OpenID has not caught on faster for at least one major reason: Single Point of Failure. The very same reason people are exhorted to used different passwords on different sites in the first place.

For the reason given above, facial recognition is a vastly different problem from OCR. Similar techniques are used, but success at beating Captchas does not really apply very much.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#27633093)

I hope the next scheme is easier for people with bad eyes. I often have to call the wife or one of my sons to solve a captcha puzzle. The black/white/grey are bad enough - when they combine colors, I'm freaking LOST!! If I'm home alone, I just give up after a couple failed attempts. Good thing my bank doesn't use this scheme, huh?

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

Artemis3 (85734) | about 5 years ago | (#27633245)

Captchas are really a problem. They cause serious accessibility issues, and many i can't solve myself having good sight and a large crystal clear lcd screen.

In your case i think you should try compiz (Called Desktop Effects in Ubuntu) for aid: There is a plugin which inverts colors, another does variable level smooth zoom which could follow your mouse, etc. Just make sure you have compizconfig-settings-manager to turn on the useful stuff and get rid of the rest.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#27633163)

But has it?

Unfortunately, CAPTCHA is radically easier than actual OCR. When cracking a CAPTCHA, achieving a success rate of 5-10% is absolutely fine. Plus, when you submit your answer, you are told whether or not you got it right. With OCR, anything short of high 90's is pretty much useless, and the only feedback available is through manual human intervention, which scales poorly.

Arguably, the only significant OCR advance has been RECAPTCHA, which is just a clever way of making humans do the hard stuff in a way that actually helps, rather than just using makework problems.

It is certainly true that CAPTCHA cracking has advanced considerably, that just doesn't apply too neatly to real OCR problems.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

an unsound mind (1419599) | about 5 years ago | (#27633481)

Jesus Christ what a horrible idea.

That would mean the end of the internet as a refuge of the autistic, given their facial recognition skills suck.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633617)

If CAPTCHAs do continue, I'd like the next problem to be facial recognition software. I'd love a package that could look at a picture and tag it "Nicholas and Andrea" or "Glen and Helene". Digital camera software everywhere could benefit from this technology. Not sure how you'd bake that into a CAPTCHA, but it's a good problem to solve.

This is a touted feature of iPhoto 09, you can train it and then let it try to tag people in your photo library.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (5, Interesting)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | about 5 years ago | (#27633727)

If CAPTCHAs do continue, I'd like the next problem to be facial recognition software. I'd love a package that could look at a picture and tag it "Nicholas and Andrea" or "Glen and Helene". Digital camera software everywhere could benefit from this technology. Not sure how you'd bake that into a CAPTCHA, but it's a good problem to solve.

How about this: The user is presented with a short message that they have to mark as "Spam" or "Not Spam". If the spammers get really good at solving this problem, they've effectively written themselves out of a job. And if they can't do it, then they can't get new accounts.

Re:It was supposed to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633741)

...you mean like iPhoto '09? Or where you to busy bashing the Mac platform to recognize it already includes many of your wildest dreams right out of the box?

Re:It was supposed to happen. (1)

Wingman 5 (551897) | about 5 years ago | (#27633757)

A good way to do CAPTCHA face recognition would be show one photo of a face, show another photo of the same person and 4 or 5 others and ask which in column B is the same person as column A?

SSSHHH!!!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632727)

Don't tell them that they're the ones that are actually being used! That spoils all the fun!

Nyit Nyao! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632731)

Nyit nyao! Nyit nyao!
I wanna na na na na nuh nuh nuh nuh ni ni ni
Nyit nyao! Nyit nyao!
Nuh nit nehhhhhh

Nyit nyao! Nyit nyao!
I want to play with her nyit nyao! Nyit nyao!
Nyit nyao, nyit nyao! Nyit nyao-nyit-nyit-nyit nyao nyit nyit nyao
I want to smell her nyit nyao! Nyit nyao, nyit nyao nyit nyao nyit nyao.

Nyit nyao! Nyit nyao!
I wanna na na na na nuh nuh nuh nuh ni ni ni
Nyit nyao! Nyit nyao!
Nuh nit nehhhhhh

True AI (5, Funny)

not-my-real-name (193518) | about 5 years ago | (#27632741)

I'll just bet that this is what leads to "true" artificial intelligence (whatever that is). Soon, we'll have completely automated agents trying to convince other completely automated agents to purchase stuff to enhance bits of biology that they don't have.

Aye Lassie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633017)

Aye, he's not a TRUE AI scotsman till he beats his wife.

Re:True AI (1)

jd (1658) | about 5 years ago | (#27633113)

Since AIs are, almost by definition, more predictable than humans, it is self-evident that AI customers can be more cost-effectively be tailored for and more easily swayed. Since limited intelligences already handle most financial decisions (virtually no humans actually play the stock markets these days), it is the AIs who have the serious money and therefore are the customers of choice.

If we go down that sort of a road, with spammers and crackers controlling research and development, humans will cease to be a factor in decisions at all. Well, not that we're really making many decisions as it is. Planes are all fly-by-wire, car engines and car navigation is all done by computers, human resources in corporations use computers to automatically select candidates, AIs are now even being used to derive and perform scientific research and make deductions from the results.

If we eliminate the need for humans to process e-mail, then there'll be nothing left for us to do.

Re:True AI (2, Insightful)

zach297 (1426339) | about 5 years ago | (#27633121)

That brings up a good point. When AI is good enough to get past CAPTCHA it will hopefully be good enough to filter out the spam.

a possible idea (3, Insightful)

ecalkin (468811) | about 5 years ago | (#27632769)

several years ago 'neural nets' were the big thing and they were thinking that they could make them 'learn' and do useful things.

i always thought that traffic control would be an interesting application. if a computer could look at video of an intersection (and streets leading to the intersection) and figure out where cars were and weren't, you could make traffic lights a lot less annoying.

so our CAPTCHA might be a picture/video of cars and a request to count them?


Re:a possible idea (1)

brusk (135896) | about 5 years ago | (#27632809)

Is that really that hard a problem? With a combination of road sensors and the ability to distinguish between a known background and other colors, that should be pretty easy. The problem is what to do with that information. The only time traffic lights are annoying in a way that could be easily remedied is a 3 am, when it's a pain to get stuck at a red when there are no cars visible in any direction. But that's not an important case; what really matters is making traffic flow smoothly when volume is heavy. And the problem there is not knowing where the cars are but understanding their behavior under different conditions and finding an optimum pattern of lights to maximize flow (or safety, or whatever else it is you want to affect).

Re:a possible idea (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27632921)

I used to work on a traffic signal system in Australia. At one point we hosted an experimental system from (I think) the CSIRO which displayed the speed you would have to travel at get a green at the next intersection. The problem with that was that it gave really bad, but accurate advice, like travel at 12km/h or 80km/h. This is where the limit is 60. So they changed it to only display speeds below and close to the limit and then it was even more useless.

The actual algorithms which determined the timing of the signals was hand assembled by traffic engineers in 12 bit PDP/11 machine code, so it was impossible to know exactly how it worked.

Maybe that system was intelligent. It certainly had a lot of emergent properties.

Re:a possible idea (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#27633885)

The problem with that was that it gave really bad, but accurate advice, like travel at 12km/h or 80km/h. This is where the limit is 60. So they changed it to only display speeds below and close to the limit and then it was even more useless.

What I don't understand is why those low and high values weren't excluded from the beginning. What were they thinking? Deploying a system that advises people to break the speed limit or go ridiculously slow? Shouldn't that have been anticipated from the outset?

Re:a possible idea (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | about 5 years ago | (#27633033)

While you're right that the sensor model is much easier than the parent post made it, I can think of a number of ways to improve the traffic flow, at least in poorly optimized places.

Even open-loop, simply timing them well can help a lot. Take for instance, driving home in a typical commuter fashion, where most of the traffic is going the same direction as you are. It makes sense to sequence the lights so that a person driving at the speed limit who starts when one light turns green will be able to pass the next few lights without having to stop. I realize a lot of places do this, but a lot of others don't.

A bit of a further-out solution would be to take that sensor, and generate an optimal control problem to maximize flow. Not a trivial problem, but I bet you could get something interesting working. Certainly not a full-on AI problem, just parameterize the flow density and flow rate and define a decent model and cost function, and run it through an NLP solver.

Re:a possible idea (2, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | about 5 years ago | (#27633177)

Certainly not a full-on AI problem, just parameterize the flow density and flow rate and define a decent model and cost function, and run it through an NLP solver.

Except that it's really a discrete problem, with a solution that likely has sensitive dependence on initial conditions (i.e., chaotic), and would result in symptoms such as "bus bunching": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_bunching [wikipedia.org]

Re:a possible idea (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | about 5 years ago | (#27633271)

Hmmm, if you smoothed out the data so that it was say, averaged over an hour, and force it to be continuous, could you get something going then. It wouldn't solve the stuck at a stoplight with no-one coming issue, but it could allow a smaller town to get a well-optimized system that adapts to changing patterns without having to have as many good traffic engineers on hand.

Anyway, I could be totally wrong. Most of my work is in vehicle control, so I tend to try and force every problem to fit within my toolbox.

Re:a possible idea (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27633203)

The system I worked on had configured in Link Plans which are designed by engineers, taking into account speed limits, distance between traffic signals, etc. Heuristics are used to select the LP to be used for particular set of intersections. Within the LP other heuristics are used to vary the behaviour of signals across a region. For example an increase in the Degree of Saturation will result in an increase in Cycle Time. DS is how dense the traffic is. Cycle Time is the time a signal controller takes to go through all its states.

A voting algorithm is used whereby intersetion controllers submit data to a regional controller. They vote to select parameters which are applied to all the signals in the region. I have seen what happens to peak time traffic when the regional controller was down (because I was working on it) and it is not a pretty sight.

Re:a possible idea (1)

jd (1658) | about 5 years ago | (#27633217)

Roundabouts are superior to traffic lights, in many respects. You don't hold up traffic at all, provided streaming is done right. The biggest problem is when they're used at small, infrequently-used intersections.

Neural nets can do nothing that is non-computable and are not suited to all kinds of problems. Petri nets are also quite interesting, but again have a very specific role in AI.

It has been shown that a single neuron from a physical brain can perform extremely complex operations. How is, as far as I know, unknown. However, it means that the most advanced computer neural nets are not yet as advanced as single organic neurons, and organic brains that have anything approximating intelligence have billions of organic neurons.

In other words, if you gave everyone on the planet an Origin 3000 and a terabit pipe, and ran all those computers as a single distributed neural net program, you would have a computer with the mental capacity of an African Grey parrot.

Now, clearly that much compute power is capable of doing FAR more work and is capable of vastly superior intellect, from which we can conclude that the problem lies not in the computers but in the techniques used. We simply don't have the software tools necessary for quality AI. At least, not by using any approach so far adopted.

My personal theory is that AI will evolve out of virtual reality because the human brain does not interact directly with the senses or muscles but via an internal simulation. All the physical world stuff is handled by external plugins to that internal VR. That seems simple to reproduce.

Since intelligence is merely an evolutionary byproduct of how that internal VR is handled, and as computers can run as many parallel handlers as there are processors thrown at the problem, I don't see that it's necessary for humans to ever solve how to program AI. Give it a self-contained MMORG and let it herustically develop itself.

Re:a possible idea (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27633381)

A roundabout is just an application of "give way to the right" (or left in a drive on the right country). We could save a lot of Give Way signs and space for roundabouts if drivers were taught to use that rule.

Traffic signals are best used when you need to give some time to a low traffic road where it crosses a high traffic road. We have a few roundabouts here in Melbourne which are pseudo signalised during peak times. A long queue on an approach triggers a pedestrian crossing on the approach to the right, creating a gap in the traffic.

Re:a possible idea (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#27633249)

Yes, you see, that's just how neural nets work, you have a problem, throw a "neural net" at it and BAM it learns how to solve it and solves it!

I once took two neural nets, gave one a huge folder of MP3s rated by how good their music is to me, so that the neural net can learn both how to decode MP3s (yeah, why bother decoding MP3s if the neural net can figure it out on its own) and learn how to make good music and churn out lots of original songs.

I gave the second neural net the same folder of rated MP3s for it to learn musical taste, now I feed it the output of the first neural net for it to judge and only keep the best songs.

Right now the best song it has produced isn't very memorable, but things are steadily improving, and according to my projections my neural nets should produce the best song in the world by 2012-2013! In the meantime I'm busy teaching a neural net how to write books, which I'll use for my next best-seller, titled "Neural nets - What can't they do?".

eBay is already planning a captcha upgrade (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632781)

Starting next year, all eBay captchas will be upgraded. Users will now be required to provide the correct answer to a shared secret question and at least one testable proof for M-theory.

Re:eBay is already planning a captcha upgrade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632895)

...testable proof for M-theory

Yo mama so fat, her ass looks like two pigs fighting over a milk dud.

But will they share their code? (5, Insightful)

dameepster (594651) | about 5 years ago | (#27632783)

Spammers are unlikely to share their results with the rest of the world. They're motivated by financial rewards, and there is absolutely no incentive to publicize their methodology in any format.

Not only would the "good guys" learn from it -- and thus potentially defeat the spammers' discovery -- but other spammers would simply steal their work.

how about... (5, Interesting)

inzy (1095415) | about 5 years ago | (#27632791)

using spammers to create AI which allows us to catch/ignore/prevent spamming?

Re:how about... (1)

jd (1658) | about 5 years ago | (#27633223)

The spammers would add in backdoors that let through the spam they themselves generate.

Re:how about... (1)

meatmanek (1062562) | about 5 years ago | (#27633785)

So you're suggesting we present several e-mails, some legitimate and one spam, and say "pick the spam e-mail" (Or the inverse, many spam and one legitimate) The problem with this is that spam filtering is a pretty well-solved problem; well-trained Bayesian filters do a pretty good job. Assuming a liberal 1% error on your Bayesian filter, there's a 1-in-a-million chance that the filter will mess up 3 times in a row.

Busting captchas has not advanced anything... (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 years ago | (#27632793)

it has simply used existing OCR-type technology on a slightly (and I want to emphasize "slightly") different problem. Different character sets, if you will.

Re:Busting captchas has not advanced anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632939)

I don't think that is entirely true. Certainly character recognition has been improved in some situations where the original source is often messy.

The problem is this wasn't everything that needed improvement.

Re:Busting captchas has not advanced anything... (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 years ago | (#27632991)

I would agree, if general-purpose captcha-beating software were available. But that isn't so. Each captcha system was beaten by custom code, individually written for that system. So in effect, it is not much different than adding a new font to existing OCR software.

Beat them with sex (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632849)

Replace captchas with pictures of hot/non-hot women.

Simply ask "is this woman hot? [Yes]/[No]"

Half of them will be so busy masturbating that they won't be cracking forms.

Look towards human instincts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632873)

Visual pattern recognition is something we're pretty darn good at. Random output mixed with patterns...select the pattern(s) in the lineup. Creating a pattern-generator is fairly easy with recursion/fractals, and creating garbage data is easy. My AI knowledge isn't that good to know if that's a reasonable item to decipher.

We're also pretty good at deducing depth from 2D images, layering shapes and having the requester 'unstack' the items might be difficult to deciper, while easy to machine generate.

Grammars and context is a strong human ability. 4 verbs and a noun, pick the noun. Combining the matured captcha OCR with language constructs.

Not exactly (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632913)

I'm not as optimistic as the New Scientist. Spammers need a really low success rate, as compared to OCR technology which needs a really high success rate.

isn't an end runaround more likely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27632937)

The spammers will just send the CAPTCHAs to [unnamed third world country] and pay humans peanuts to match them. Or more devious yet, they can set up a lottery and selectively reward some of their worker bees.

Need incremental problems (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 5 years ago | (#27632943)

Make the problem too hard and the spammers will just hire people to crack it.

It worked for captchas since they started out very easy and progressively got harder.

The CAPTCHA problem is an easy one. (2, Interesting)

iendedi (687301) | about 5 years ago | (#27633037)

All you have to do is put humans "in" the CAPTCHA interpretation logic, by way of a porn site. BOT -> PORN SITE -> SCRAPE REAL CAPTCHA AND PRESENT TO USER -> USER TYPES CAPTCHA TO SEE PORN -> BOT USES SOLUTION TO PASS REAL CAPTCHA

Seems simple to me.

Resiliant software (3, Interesting)

onyxruby (118189) | about 5 years ago | (#27633153)

You know, if legitimate software could ever learn how to make software as resilient as malware the world would be a better place. Modern malware is getting close to nuke proof. Delete registry keys, dll's, multiple self healing packages, msi source code, custom drivers, service restarts, redundant services, monitoring agents, update agents to ensure the latest upgrade and so on - and that's just what I saw a couple weeks ago on a relatives computer. Have you tried removing some of the latest malware w/o removing the disk and operating from a different computer? Unless you do you can't /really/ be sure it's been removed. Modern malware has the ability to incredibly resilient and bullet proof

Re:Resiliant software (1)

Artemis3 (85734) | about 5 years ago | (#27633297)

Thats when you turn them to Ubuntu (or equivalent), and stop servicing windows altogether :)

Re:Resiliant software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633855)

Repeat after me:
Ubuntu/Linux is not inherently secure.
Ubuntu/Linux is not inherently secure.
Ubuntu/Linux is not inherently secure.

Linux-based systems offer an entirely different breed of "security through obscurity", but it's still just obscurity.

future problems to solve (1)

hydrodog (1154181) | about 5 years ago | (#27633175)

By this logic, we shouldn't set our sights so low. Use CAPTCHAs that require forecasting the weather 7 days out (granted, the lag is a bit much), analyze the code in the box and prove what it does, prove the equation in the box (Rieman's conjecture, anyone?) It also makes your site really, really exclusive. The only one to use it is the lucky human (or AI) that solves the puzzle....

Oh dear ... (1)

nitroyogi (1471601) | about 5 years ago | (#27633189)

So does that mean future AI research journals would be interpersed with 'Penis Enlargement' and 'Cialis' ads?

Hmm ... I see where this is heading.

Re:Oh dear ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633239)

Kinkier sex robots?

How about that.. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#27633231)

Social engineering to improve society. That may be a first.

Re:How about that.. (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#27633909)

It's been going on for a long time. See Socrates, punk, rock'n'roll, Civil Rights, taxation, feminism, environmentalism and on and on and on.

An important real-world challenge... (1)

bobdevine (825603) | about 5 years ago | (#27633257)

Maybe the hard AI challenge should be : to give me a million bucks!

Alternately, (putting pinkie by nose) a meeee-yillion dollars.

i just got off the toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633281)

i shit out an obama.


They won't share their advancements (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | about 5 years ago | (#27633295)

This article assumes that the state of AI will be advanced. That won't happen unless the spammers share their research or code. I doubt that's going to happen.

New generation of Turing tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633351)

New type of bot-preventing tests could involve automatically generating images of simple shapes, animals or flowers. The visitor would be required to type in the name (such as "rose", "circle" or "cat") into the field. Honestly, I don't see bots being capable to recognize images of that type anytime soon.

Dear Friend, (5, Funny)

drolli (522659) | about 5 years ago | (#27633475)

My father, a nigerian spammer passed away. He left an AI system on a server located in a datacenter. Sadly during the last phase of his life unpaid data transfer bills accumulated to a sum of $300000. I am already negotiating with the secret services of the word who want to buy this program for $10000000. I can't pay the data transfer bills, so i turn to you, a trustworthy AI reasearcher. For $300000 you get a share of $500000000 and the copyright to the source code.

sincerely yours,

Recaptcha (1)

sheriff_p (138609) | about 5 years ago | (#27633607)

Hasn't Recaptcha pretty much solved the captcha issue? Only words that OCR can't read are shown ... by definition!


Turing Tests (1)

speaker4thedead (193887) | about 5 years ago | (#27633609)

So the first computers to pass the turing test will do it by convincing some little-old-lady in Peoria that it's a deposed nigerian prince with money flow issues?

Good. (1)

solios (53048) | about 5 years ago | (#27633663)

As somebody who either has an excruciatingly difficult time reading the damned things, or - more frequently - being completely unable to read them at all, I for one welcome the day when captchas are relegated to the dustbin of history.

Seriously. I'd love to just be able to download porn without having to take a screenshot of the browser and then dick around in photoshop for a few minutes (brightness/contrast, pen tool, etc) in order for megaupload or whatever to let me get at the goodies.

I have a hard enough time with normal-shaped words, dammit. This captcha crap is inhumane, and I can't wait to be rid of it. If smarter bot software is what it takes, then so be it - hell, I'd pay for that kind of software, just so I don't have to deal with the damned inconvenience anymore.

How about predicting lotto drawings? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27633767)

One thing spammers could do is come up with a way to pick winning lottery numbers. Oh wait....

Ignoring the real problem. (4, Interesting)

blackest_k (761565) | about 5 years ago | (#27633809)

Trying to ensure only humans sign up for things is just a small part of a bigger problem.

The other night I got javascripted away from the page i'd found in Google to watch a page pretend to put windows on my laptop and find malware, seen it many times before, i run ubuntu so seeing an xp like display of my c: and d: drives and various dll files being scanned isn't very convincing.

I decided to look into why i'd landed on the original page. Google had the page as about no4 after my initial search, but the site was about 4 weeks old whys it ranked so high?

And the answer is incoming links from around 86,000 pages according to google (links:domain.name)a lot of them are created internally passing links between malware site to malware site. But the majority come from sites using php forms which add user posts to the the sites pages.

A number of months ago i found my sites contact forms were sending a lot of garbage emails to me absolutely stuffed with urls and I wondered why bother doing this since i'm not going to visit the sites. anyway the cure was to only allow the forms to be processed with no more than a few urls in them. stopped the junk hitting the inbox. It's not stopped the automated posting but the forms are not processed and i don't get them any more.

When I examined the links to the malware site i found php posted user posts packed with links just like my emails had been the difference being these were posted published and being crawled. Because of these links a site with less than 4 weeks life is ranked highly because of the quantity of inbound links and thats why I got to watch a display of XP like virus and malware scanning,

I also examined the content of the pages of the original malware site and the subjects varied quite widely but they also seemed to have a relation with the trends that google was showing for related keywords in the weeks before the site went live. I've a feeling that the pages were generated by pulling content from legitimate sites that ranked high in the natural search.

I guess site owners tend to think these links are to spam porn at their users but its not its so google will promote the malware sites with gamed page rank.

Clever isn't it
find good key phrases (may be just using google trends)
scrape content from legit sites and mashup
create massive array of links to site.
wait for the fish to arrive and scam them.

The Antivirus scam is antivirus2009 but you only get shown it once
heres a link for details on removing it and some interesting details.

http://www.2-spyware.com/remove-antivirus-2009.html [2-spyware.com]

Thing is the third party linking sites were using captchas but the real problem was not filtering the posts if a suitable max number of url's were used the posts would fail and the pagerank gaming would too.

Fixing the broken php and cgi scripts is whats really needed not just a better captcha
The Captcha is just a BandAid on a deeper problem and webmasters need to deal with the issues.

How About Using Stereograms? (2, Interesting)

Anenome (1250374) | about 5 years ago | (#27633823)

Do you think that we could use sterograms as a new form of Captcha? A sterogram uses the deep structures of the brain in a way completely different from mere character recognition in order to derive depth from an image. How hard would it be for a computer program to derive 3D information from a stereogram and make sense out of it? Wouldn't spammers essentially have to solve a much-harder vision problem, that of depth perception, than CAPTCHAs OCR solution?

For the uninitiated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereogram [wikipedia.org]

For a sample stereogram along with a picture of what you will see when done correctly (as shown by a B&W heightmap): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stereogram_Tut_Random_Dot_Shark.png [wikipedia.org]

Re:How About Using Stereograms? (3, Insightful)

adnonsense (826530) | about 5 years ago | (#27633905)

What about people like me who can't seem to get the hang of the darn things? (I personally wouldn't be surprised if they're some kind of elaborate hoax...)

Re:How About Using Stereograms? (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 5 years ago | (#27633931)

I'd be enthusiastic if i could actually see these hidden images. Even knowing what they are doesn't help

I have some ideas... (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about 5 years ago | (#27633957)

Are there any other problems that criminal crowdsourcing could help with?

Hmm, 'My lack of money' comes to mind. Any takers? No? ...please? ;__;

Funny or not? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#27633985)

Even for an advanced AI of the XXV century as Data was pretty hard to discern when something was funny or not.

And if they manage to make an AI that recognize and enables to discern or even make always funny jokes we will be so amused that wont worry about spam anymore. Mmm... maybe they already did [cracked.com]

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