Trivia

Hard

Google Has Leveraged Security Captcha To Successfully Do What?

Analyze Astronomical Data
Digitize Books
Fold Proteins
Solve Encryption Algorithms

Answer: Digitize Books

A captcha is a small puzzle intended to establish that the user of a service or interface is human. Any time you’ve gone to sign up for an email newsletter, join a discussion forum, or other online activity and been asked to identify a word, read text with scribbles through it, label a photo, or other activity that a computer would be terrible at but even a very unclever human would excel at, you’ve experienced a captcha.

Historically, captchas were just blurbs of text or numbers meshed into a loud background. If you were a computer, you couldn’t easily parse out the data hidden in the image file, but a human could easily see that behind all the yellow and blue marks there was a sequence of letters and numbers like “Y345LW8”. Type that sequence in and you confirm that you’re not just a dirty spam bot.

What if you could leverage all those hundreds of thousands of useless captcha solutions and make them useful? That’s exactly what Google did with the reCaptcha system. Instead of giving you a random string of letters and numbers masked by hash marks, they serve up a pair of words from their enormous database of digitized books, newspapers, and other documents. All of those documents have been worked over by Google’s OCR software, but as anyone who has used OCR software can tell you, even the best software is very unreliable. Humans, however, are fantastic at reading text that is blurry, smudged, unclear, or otherwise unrecognizable to a machine. So every time you visit a web site with a reCaptcha in place, you’re actually helping Google to figure out exactly what that scanned word is. When enough users return the same value for the word, it is reanalyzed and confirmed.

Trivia

Easy

Nearly Half Of The World’s Gold Supply Has Come From What Single Country?

Trivia

Hard

Protest Over Which Video Game, Counterintuitively, Led To More Violent Games?

Trivia

Hard

Before CGI Backgrounds, Film Makers Used A Technique Known As?

Trivia

Hard

Which Video Game Character Derives His Name From Time Travel?

Trivia

Hard

As A Marketing Stunt, Sony Once Sold Walkmans Encased In A?

Trivia

Hard

The Intervention Of What Led To A Total Restructuring Of British Radio In The 1960s?

Trivia

Very Hard

Which Of These Technology Terms Is Made Up And Not A Cultural Reference Or Portmanteau?

Trivia

Hard

The Highest Grade Of Leather Is Called?

Trivia

Hard

Which Of These Compound Classes Is So Foul That Smelling It Hinders Research Into Them?

Trivia

Hard

Who Invented the Time Ball, Predecessor of the New Year’s Eve Ball?