Google today announced that reCAPTCHAs served up to humans are finally readable without the need to squint your eyes or bang your keyboard in frustration after typing the wrong sequence of letters five times in a row. Who can even read those things, amirite?
Google has figured out how to tell if you're a human or a bot, and if you're human you get an easy CAPTCHA. We've asked Google why a CAPTCHA would be necessary at all if the company already knows you're human, but we haven't received an answer yet. Anyway, Google reCAPTCHA Product Manager Vinay Shet writes in a blog post:
The updated system uses advanced risk analysis techniques, actively considering the user’s entire engagement with the CAPTCHA—before, during and after they interact with it. That means that today the distorted letters serve less as a test of humanity and more as a medium of engagement to elicit a broad range of cues that characterize humans and bots.
As part of this, we’ve recently released an update that creates different classes of CAPTCHAs for different kinds of users. This multi-faceted approach allows us to determine whether a potential user is actually a human or not, and serve our legitimate users CAPTCHAs that most of them will find easy to solve. Bots, on the other hand, will see CAPTCHAs that are considerably more difficult and designed to stop them from getting through.
reCAPTCHA was developed at Carnegie Mellon University and acquired by Google in 2009. In addition to protecting websites from robots, the text typed in by humans helps digitize the text of books.