In One Domain, Anyway, Man Still Conquers Machine
CAPTCHAs, where humans distill words from squiggles, hold line in spam war
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2008 4:53 PM CDT
Rapidshare's latest captchas involved pictures of cats.   ((c) Visentico / Sento)
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(Newser) – Every web user has come across CAPTCHAs: wavy-lettered depiction of words you must retype as text. Most pay them no mind, but, Lev Grossman writes in Time, we should reflect upon completing one. They're one of the rare visible skirmishes in the largely invisible war between spammers and security programmers. But besides that, they are quite literally tests of our humanity.

CAPTCHAs (an imperfect acronym for "completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart") work on exploiting things computers can’t do, and so are constantly being compromised. Spammers’ programs can read many of the simple graphic-text CAPTCHAs, so, Grossman writes, they "might soon involve identifying animals or listening to a sound file—anything computers aren't good at. (What's next? Tasting wine? Composing a sonnet?)"