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Suspicion over reason why Captcha bot test are always related to roads and driving

Aisha Nozari

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Suspicion over reason why Captcha bot test are always related to roads and driving

Any human with wifi access will be accustomed to Captcha bots checking their sentience. 

Selecting all squares with cars, street signs and traffic lights has become second nature to us homo sapiens, but people reckon there’s a hidden reason these tiled image tests tend to be so vehicle heavy.

In a recent video, Tiktoker @sherifelsahly explained that ‘these bot tests are not what you think they are’, and if you're wondering whether his theory has anything to do with data collection, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’ve hit the mark. 

@sherifelsahly explained: “These bot tests are not what you think they are. If you’ve ever done one of these security tests, you probably assume that it’s just a way to check that you’re a real person. 

“But that’s actually not the case. Have you ever noticed how almost all of these tests are related to road activity? 

“Well it turns out that your answers are being stored as data and the data is being used to teach cars how to self drive.”

The social media user’s two million followers were taken aback by the info, with many writing ‘wtf’ beneath their post.

Other comments included: “Imma purposely pick the wrong ones from now on,” “Wow” and “Bots will probably be able to do them with ease soon.”

Any human with wifi access will be accustomed to Captcha bots checking their sentience. Credit: TikTok/@sherifelsahly
Any human with wifi access will be accustomed to Captcha bots checking their sentience. Credit: TikTok/@sherifelsahly

@sherifelsahly isn't the only one who reckons the Captcha tests are purposefully traffic themed.

When asked by Ceros if the tests could be used to train self-driving cars, a 'senior engineer at a luxury car brand which has plans to launch an autonomous car' said that 'this absolutely makes sense'.

They added: "Google has a history of using humans to verify and improve their OCR recognition through reCaptcha in the past.

"Applying the same resources to verify and improve their image processing, machine learning, and AI algorithms is the next logical step.

"Autonomous driving is all about big data and AI, and this is likely part of their program."

Michael Cutter, director of computer vision at tech company Tortuga, also told tech author Richard Fang: “I couldn’t imagine wasting human effort like that. Training data is too valuable to modern computer vision techniques. You’d want to do something with it.”

Captcha software was developed by Luis von Ahn and Ben Maurer and acquired by Google in 2009.

At the time, the software was word-based, with internet users having to type out what slightly jumbled letters they saw on the screen before them.

@sherifelsahly explained: “These bot tests are not what you think they are.” Credit: TikTok/@sherifelsahly
@sherifelsahly explained: “These bot tests are not what you think they are.” Credit: TikTok/@sherifelsahly

Soon, Captcha required people to start identifying street numbers, with Google confirming: “We’re currently running an experiment in which characters from Street View images are appearing in CAPTCHAs. 

“We often extract data such as street names and traffic signs from Street View imagery to improve Google Maps with useful information like business addresses and locations.”

Google’s 2012 statement went on: “Based on the data and results of these reCAPTCHA tests, we’ll determine if using imagery might also be an effective way to further refine our tools for fighting machine and bot-related abuse online.”

LADbible has approached Google for comment.

Featured Image Credit: Google/ Dragan Nikolic / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Technology

Aisha Nozari
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