Captchas help preserve old texts

John Moe Mar 29, 2011

When you go online and have to determine a captcha word, it’s likely that word is from an old text that’s been digitized.
When old texts are digitized, we’ve got technology to make an image of the text, encode the text so it can be searched. But, we don’t have technology that can do well at correcting mistakes. That’s where humans come in (so glad we’re still good for something!). A researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. von Ahn “estimated that humans around the world decode at least 200 million Captchas per day, at 10 seconds per Captcha. This works out to about 500,000 hours per day — a lot of applied brainpower being spent on what Dr. von Ahn regards as a fundamentally mindless exercise. “

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.