2228: Machine Learning Captcha
|Machine Learning Captcha|
Title text: More likely: Click on all the pictures of people who appear disloyal to [name of company or government]
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a HUMAN CAPTCHA. Which of the nine images would you click to prove you were human? A section about this. Also to explain what is actually on the pictures, which is not completely clear. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
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Many websites have difficulties with spambots, which are automated entities created in order to log onto a website and spam or otherwise wreak havoc upon it. To guard against this eventuality, websites have implemented CAPTCHAs, a challenge used to prove the user is a human and not an automated program. A typical CAPTCHA might distort a random sequence of letters and numbers and put it in a strange and/or mixed font and ask a user to type it, or it might show a set of pictures and ask the user which ones contain fire hydrants; these tasks are meant to be easy for humans but obscenely difficult for computers. CAPTCHAs are a recurring theme on xkcd.
CAPTCHAs run by Google are also used to train artificial intelligences to get better at these difficult tasks, such as reading poorly-scanned text or identifying objects of interest on the road (the latter being the subject of 1897: Self Driving).
This comic jokes about a malicious CAPTCHA which is being used to train an AI to dominate the world. In order to prevent people from taking shelter, the AI uses the CAPTCHA to ask humans like Cueball to tell it places where they would hide. The implication is that during a robot uprising, the AI, on the side of the robots, would then be able to track down humans much more easily.
There are some decent choices for where a human could hide from an AI in the pictures given. For example, a house or bomb shelter (top left), or even a car (left) or hole (bottom right), would be decent places to hide. However, most of the choices would not make sense for a human; for example, it would be hard to hide on a sidewalk (right) or in a mailbox (bottom). Some may even be Cow Tools.
The title text imagines a different malicious CAPTCHA which Randall says is "more likely" than the robot-uprising scenario, in which a company or government asks users to identify "disloyal" members of society. Presumably the company or government would then use this information to eliminate such "disloyal" members, either by firing them (company) or jailing, expelling, or executing them (government). This follows a theme of previous comic strips (e.g. 1968: Robot Future) in which Randall expresses that he is more concerned about humans using AI for evil ends than he is about AI being evil in itself.
Note that while CAPTCHA in the title of this comic is written Captcha rather than in the correct all-caps style, on the xkcd page, Randall uses small caps, so although there is a distinction between capital and lower case letters, the word Captcha is actually written correctly out as CAPTCHA!
- [Cueball is sitting in an office chair at his desk with one hand in his lap and the other poised over the keyboard of his computer. A zigzag line is drawn from a starburst on the computer screen going above the computer to where it is shown what is displayed on the screen. At the top there is the following text:]
- Computer: To prove you're a human, click on all the photos that show places you would run for shelter during a robot uprising.
- [Below the text there are nine images arranged in a 3 by 3 square. In reading order they are: A house, possibly with an open carport; a large tree with two trees in the background; a bunker/bomb shelter; a car; a city skyline with several sky scrapers; a sidewalk with road on the left, grass on the right; a log with a board leaning up on the log; a mailbox; and a hole in the ground.]
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