CAPTCHA’s are irritating but necessary to prevent bots on websites. The system which is used to verify whether or not the user is human has been around a while and it had to evolve because machines were getting better at reading text than humans. With its latest iteration, Google says you will no longer have to input anything at all.
The invisible CAPTCHA’s are the latest development in “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart” Google acquired reCaptcha back in 2009 and updated system in 2013 to allow for ubiquitous “I’m not a robot” checkbox that is all over the internet. The newer version worked very well by determining the user’s humanity through their clicking style. If click seemed fishy, a more elaborate test would be offered. But the Invisible CAPTCHA is able to recognize that a user is not bot simply by analyzing their browsing behavior.
In a video, the company explained “Powering these advances is a combination of machine learning and advanced risk analysis that adapt to new and emerging threats.” But what’s in it for Google?
When initially brought reCaptcha it was for the purpose of integrating it into giant book scanning project. The technology was great for digitizing books that were illegible to Google’s transcription system. But it’s unclear what Google gains by continuing to improving the software.
Shuman Ghosemajumder, a former Google employee tells Popular Science
“Google in general—and this is certainly a philosophy that we adhered to when I was there—believed that anything that is good for the internet, is good for Google.” In this case, a “more frictionless” internet is good for everybody.
But don’t count out the possibility that Google is improving its machine learning capabilities through your behaviors. And Ghosemajumder points out that Google knows about the past behavior of users when they’re logged in, which would make the system more accurate. That could be a small incentive for some people to ensure they log in.