2228: Machine Learning Captcha

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Machine Learning Captcha
More likely: Click on all the pictures of people who appear disloyal to [name of company or government]
Title text: More likely: Click on all the pictures of people who appear disloyal to [name of company or government]


Ambox notice.png 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.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

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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Seems remarkably similar to this comic. Is he running out of ideas? 00:33, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

I don't see much connection, other than them both being about CAPTCHAs.--GoldNinja (talk) 00:54, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
agree GoldNinja the first is about captchas getting freework done, the second is about that work having potentially malicious consequences Boatster (talk) 04:50, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
I agree that Randall uses a similar idea, but he uses it in two very different scenarios. The first is a bit scary as it relies on somopne using this captcha before the cat crashes, but this comic is much more sinister, especially the title text. --Kynde (talk) 09:10, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
I see you're using the car --> cat browser script (1288)... I approve.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:08, 15 November 2019 (UTC)
Actually, I agree on the similarity, both are about CAPTCHAs being used for nefarious purposes other than the supposed intent of identifying humans vs. bots (this explanation is the first I hear that Google openly uses CAPTCHAs to train AI, is that actually confirmed? If I ever saw a Google CAPTCHA I'd make sure not to solve it, LOL!). Just that 1897 is more mildly nefarious, just asking something a self-driving car should already know. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:39, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

A note: 2227 isn't connecting to 2228 via the Next button; has this happened before? --Account (talk) 01:20, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

Fixed now.--Account (talk) 02:49, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

Why is this comic listed as a Thursday comic? Isn't it Wednesday in Boston?--Account (talk) 02:49, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

Yes. I don't know what time the comic was uploaded, but right now it is 10:34 PM Wednesday in Boston. I changed the date of the comic to today instead of tomorrow. Mathmannix (talk) 03:34, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
Well, this site uses UTC time (something I somewhat disagree with, since I think it's a time zone that lands in the middle of the ocean, LOL! But clearly to be fair to people in different time zones, so I can't argue it as being the best choice), so maybe our site got it late enough that in UTC it was already Thursday? NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:33, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

I think the upper right picture looks like a cave, but maybe too angular to be natural; maybe a bomb shelter or something like that where those pesky humans might actually try to hide? Mathmannix (talk) 03:40, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

I was thinking a bomb shelter or bunker as well 03:44, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
That sounds about right; just made it official on the transcript. --Account (talk) 04:49, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
Bomb shelter or looks more like one of those hanger-in-a-hill things you see in movies. To paraphrase Star Wars, That's no cave. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:33, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
Looks like a tent to me. 19:15, 22 December 2019 (UTC)

I wonder if the section on the text case used for CAPTCHA should be moved to a trivia section, since the differences between here and xkcd.com is simply related to standard comic title convention and the font styles applied on each site. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 16:04, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

I agree with that-- or perhaps it should simply be ignored; after all, this wasn't mentioned in KSP 2.--Account (talk) 16:23, 14 November 2019 (UTC)
I indeed find it a rather petty and pedantic point. I really doubt Randall took his all-caps font into consideration, he simply wrote it technically incorrect (it's just a coincidence that the font makes it look almost normal). In the end it's quite common to write an acronym like a word, without capitalization: Scuba, laser, taser, gif, lol (and its variants), etc. Count me as another vote for a Trivia section, it's a nice note to make, but barely worth noting. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:33, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

This wiki uses reCAPTCHA! Run! AAAAAAAA172.68.189.121 19:12, 22 December 2019 (UTC)