The Marketplace Reader

Computers 1, Humans 0

Jeffery Long Jul 16, 2008

If you’ve set up a new account on a website in the last few years, you’re no doubt familiar with the string of random letters and numbers you have to type to prove you’re a human.

These tests — called CAPTCHAs — were supposed to stymie computer programs trying to pose as humans on sign-up pages and forums, but industry experts suspect we may soon be seeing the last of them.

Computerworld is predicting the death of the CAPTCHA, saying that in the decade-long game of cat and mouse, the scammers and their programs — computers tricking other computers into thinking they’re human — have emerged victorious.

With automated tools now able to defeat 90-100 percent of the CAPTCHAs at many popular sites, malicious users can create free e-mail addresses and social networking accounts at will.

Few users will mourn the passing of the tests. As CAPTCHAs grew more complex over the years to hold off computerized attempts to subvert them, they added headaches for site administrators and effectively locked out many blind users.

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