Prove you're human by identifying gibberish words, because computers suck at that

research captcha blind identify gibberish robot typing
Think CAPTCHAs are annoying? Imagine how bad they are for the blind.

Try as designers might, there hasn’t ever been a really solid solution for the visually impaired to prove that they’re human. Such CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) are either too difficult to solve, or too easy for bots to figure out. But researchers at Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum might have a solution. A number of words are read out loud by a computer, alongside some gibberish; users need to identify the gibberish. It sounds simple, but bots struggle with it, Phys.org is reporting.

This is a great deal easier for users than the current methods, which require transcribing words that the computer reads aloud.

This new CAPTCHA method isn’t just easier for humans, however: It’s also harder for bots. Computers are pretty good at recognizing words at this point, and in some cases are actually better at it than humans. But machines struggle to identify gibberish. Go ahead: say a bunch of nonsense words to Siri or Cortana, and watch as these systems guess and identify that nonsense as a series of words you didn’t intend.

With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine this new CAPTCHA being hard for machines to figure out but superficial for humans. Research shows a human success rate of 60 percent, and a 14 percent machine success rate. Previous audio CAPTCHA systems see a 63 percent machine crack rate, making this an improvement.

The complete research, “Towards Improved Audio CAPTCHAs Based on Auditory Perception and Language Understanding,” will be published in ACM Transactions on Information and System Security later this year.

Of course, bots built specifically for this task may eventually come along and get better at solving this specific task. They keep building better bots, which means the web needs better CAPTCHAs. The cat-and-mouse game is becoming less and less relevant, however, as more sites require users to sign in using Facebook, Google, or other credentials instead of using CAPTCHA. Still, for those cases when you’d rather not sign in, it’s good to see new, easier methods of verifying one’s humanity.

Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.

4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.

Firefox 66 is here and it will soon block irritating autoplay videos

Do web advertisements have you frustrated? Mozilla is here to help. The latest version of the browser will soon block autoplaying videos by default and will also help make web page scrolling smoother.

Patreon is having another go at changing the way it charges creators

Patreon messed up pretty badly the last time it tried to change its payment system. Now it's having another go, though this time the changes mainly affect future sign-ups rather than its current community of creators.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 

How much!? British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation

Website errors sometimes cause flight prices to display at way below the correct price. But British Airways recently experienced the opposite issue when it tried to charge a family more than $4 million for a vacation in Mexico.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.