Spam-trap Turing tests train smarter software

Email and comment spam is one of those constant low-grade annoyances that simply becomes part of the furniture if you spend a lot of time on the ‘net, as are the CAPTCHA puzzles you have to take to prove you’re a human. [image from Wikimedia Commons]

Signs are that they won’t be much use much longer, though; a UK researcher has been using the ‘twisted letters’ type of CAPTCHA to train his visual recognition algorithms, while a chap at Palo Alto has a program that can correctly identify cats and dogs 83% of the time – which, lets face it, is probably a better success rate than the average YouTube user can manage.

Sadly, training algorithms against Turing test spam-traps is no more likely to produce a recognisably intelligent piece of software than the Loebner Artificial Intelligence Prize is. But maybe one day we’ll be able to combine all the pieces… if they don’t beat us to it and combine themselves, of course. 😉