Google Invisible reCAPTCHA fights robots from the shadows


— 3:00 PM on March 9, 2017

Pretty much everyone hates CAPTCHA forms, the often-annoying checkboxes or miniature surveys that many web sites force upon a user in order to access a particular page. A CAPTCHA's purpose is to serve as a verification tool to ensure that only conscious entities like living, breathing human beings can access certain internet resources, and prevent bots from spamming contact and e-mail forms. Various flavors of the tool have required unique inputs, from clicking a box that says "I am not a robot," to forcing users to type in words that OCR software couldn't figure out, or categorize different images. Google claims its Invisible reCAPTCHA technology can now keep out bots without requiring any intervention from actual users.

The company has provided little information about how its technique actually works, for fairly obvious reasons. According to Google's video, Invisible reCAPTCHA uses "a combination of machine learning and advanced risk analysis that adapt to new and emerging threats." Whatever exactly that means, it's expected that most users won't have to do anything, while any access that's deemed suspicious will be presented with traditional CAPTCHA challenges. Webmasters willing to try it out can click here to sign up.

If the system works as well as Google says it does, many online activities might become just a little more convenient. Buying event tickets, online banking, and signing up for online gerbil husbandry forums might require jumping through one less hoop in the future.

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