The Null Device

Bot vs. anti-bot

The next breakthrough in machine intelligence is likely to come from the war between spammers and makers of spam filters: in particular, the hardest machine vision and reasoning problems are the scene of an arms race between spam bots and bot-detection systems, often known as "CAPTCHAs". Typically these take the form of the distorted letters/numerals you have to enter when signing up for your new free webmail account, but others are being worked on. Meanwhile, new generations of bots are emerging which are better at coping with the systems in use.

I wonder whether we'll soon see a breakthrough in AI enter the body of scientific literature not by being discovered by a AI researcher but by being dissected out of a captured bot by some sort of cyberzoologist, its principles becoming gradually revealed as its innards are studied, and the real discoverers remaining forever anonymous (if perhaps comfortably well-off) in the spam underworld.

There are 4 comments on "Bot vs. anti-bot":

Posted by: mitch http:// Tue Oct 21 00:37:05 2003

Ethics and AI, the game:

Posted by: gjw Tue Oct 21 00:41:39 2003

There have been stories of "computers making use of human processing power", with spammers paying legions of teenagers to translate the distorted letters - a task computers are no good at - when signing up for scores of mail accounts.

Posted by: acb Tue Oct 21 02:57:05 2003

I thought that was likely to happen too, with either teenagers or call centres in third-world countries dedicated to signing up for webmail/IM accounts. Though with a well-designed website, it should be possible to prevent the images from being sent separately from the form and used to fill in the form later, or at least to make it hard.

Posted by: Ben Wed Oct 22 03:25:28 2003

Baffletext? I'll say. It's not just bots who are going to have difficulty with Baffletext - I can't for the life of me figure out what it says in the second example given.

Want to say something? Do so here.

Post pseudonymously

Display name:
To prove that you are not a bot, please enter the text in the image into the field below it.

Your Comment:

Please keep comments on topic and to the point. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.

Note that markup is stripped from comments; URLs will be automatically converted into links.