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How are we helping Google by solving a captcha

CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) has become a part of our interaction with the internet in our day to day life. Whether we are solving it get access to a website or to get access to any feature which requires human to access not a robot.

Captcha was invented in 2003 by Luis von Ahn and other researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Initially, CAPTCHAs would work by offering up a series of jumbled letters and intentionally warping these just enough that humans could easily read them but robots could not.



As time passed new thoughts started to pour to make it more usable as millions of captchas are being solved every single day, as it would have been unwise to not to utilize all these brain power.

Thus creators of Captcha came up with a way to use the brain power and simultaneously preventing spammers from spamming the internet. And the way was ReCAPTCHA. The creators of ReCAPTCHA started scanning books and converting them into PDFs using software, any words that were too hard for the computer to convert they would put into a captcha and let a human convert them.

At this point, 100 million ReCaptchas were being solved every day, the equivalent of 2.5 million books a year.

In 2009 Google bought “ReCaptcha”. Google digitized all of the google books and all of the New York Times archives. When there were not enough books to digitize Google started giving people street numbers from Google street view to help Google maps.

Everything was going great, until… computer technology started getting advanced enough to solve captchas on its own. They started making captchas harder to solve, which also made even normal humans difficult to solve it let alone the physical handicap eventually, the technology caught on and Google needed a new strategy.

They had to find a solution to it and thus they came up with a Captcha that we all know and solve it

Also Read:
5 common problems technology should have solved it by now

When you click the checkbox, it sends over an HTTP request to Google with information like your IP address, your location and time, the way you move your cursor before you click, how you were scrolling the page, time intervals, and more. Most of the time the machine learning bots over at Google can tell whether or not you are a robot, but if they’re still unsure you get something like this-

Image Captcha

And that’s how Google can tell who’s a human and who isn’t in order to show them the Captcha. pretty cool, huh?

But, wait what about the answers how CAPTCHA differentiate between human and a robot since even they don’t know the answer. Whenever a person solves a CAPTCHA, for example, you are given a captcha where you were asked to select only cars in it, most will select the image with cars and some will not whether mistakenly or didn’t know that car was there so, now those most people’s probability of clicking the right image with the car will be more than the fewer people who clicked on the wrong image in the CAPTCHA.

The next time you are asked to type a CAPTCHA don’t get frustrated,be happy that you are helping books getting digitalize.


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