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29th October 2013

Artificial intelligence breakthrough: CAPTCHA 'Turing Test' is passed

A new software algorithm is capable of solving CAPTCHAs – a test commonly used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.




Vicarious, a startup developing artificial intelligence software, has announced that its algorithms can now reliably solve modern CAPTCHAs, including Google's reCAPTCHA, the world's most widely used test of a machine's ability to act human.

A CAPTCHA (which stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") is considered broken if an algorithm is able to achieve a precision of at least 1%. Leveraging core insights from machine learning and neuroscience, the Vicarious AI can achieve success rates of up to 90% on modern CAPTCHAs from Google, Yahoo, PayPal, Captcha.com, and others. This advancement, the company says, renders text-based CAPTCHAs no longer effective as a Turing test.

"Recent AI systems like IBM’s Watson and deep neural networks rely on brute force: connecting massive computing power to massive datasets. 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", said Vicarious co-founder D. Scott Phoenix.



"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 co-founder Dr. Dileep George.

Solving CAPTCHA is the first public demonstration of Recursive Cortical Network (RCN) technology. Although still many years away, the commercial applications of RCN will have broad implications for robotics, medical image analysis, image and video search, and many other fields.

"We should not 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."


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