An American artificial intelligence company claims to have “cracked” CAPTCHAs – the standard word tests used to tell humans and computers apart online. A program designed by Vicarious is shown “breaking” CAPTCHA text in a video released by the company.
The system, known as Vicarious AI, achieves a success rate of up to 90% against standard CAPTCHAs used by Google, Yahoo and PayPal, its creators claim – using machine learning, rather than massive amounts of computing power.
“This renders text-based CAPTCHAs no longer effective as a Turing test,” the company said in a statement. The security implications of the discovery are less clear. Speaking to the BBC, computer scientist Luis von Ahn, part of the team which developed CAPTCHA, said that it was difficult to verify the results, and that if Vicarious’s claims are true, sites may simply need to increase the distortion used in CAPTCHA images.
“Recent AI systems like IBM’s Watson and deep neural networks rely on brute force: connecting massive computing power to massive datasets,” , said Vicarious co-founder D. Scott Phoenix..
“This is the first time this distinctively human act of perception has been achieved, and it uses relatively minuscule amounts of data and computing power. The Vicarious algorithms achieve a level of effectiveness and efficiency much closer to actual human brains”
“Understanding how brain creates intelligence is the ultimate scientific challenge. Vicarious has a long term strategy for developing human level artificial intelligence, and it starts with building a brain-like vision system. Modern CAPTCHAs provide a snapshot of the challenges of visual perception, and solving those in a general way required us to understand how the brain does it”, said Vicarious co-founder Dr. Dileep George.
Vicarious says that this is just the first public demonstration of its “learning” Recursive Cortical Network (RCN) technology – and says that in future, it may be used in robotics, medical image analysis, image and video search. The company admits, though, that this is “many years” away.
“We should be careful not to underestimate the significance of Vicarious crossing this milestone,” said Facebook co-founder and board member Dustin Moskovitz. “This is an exciting time for artificial intelligence research, and they are at the forefront of building the first truly intelligent machines.”
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security