I’m sure you’ve encountered a CAPTCHA somewhere. You’re online, you’re going to order something or sign up for something … but first you have to pass the gauntlet that is deciphering jumbled text. Right? You must have, since the estimate is 100 million of these puppies are employed every day.
Now, however, what you’re deciphering may actually be useful, not simply a hurdle to make sure you’re a human and not a computer bot. (CATCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. See Turing Test if you don’t know what it is!)
From ArsTechnica: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon created reCAPTCHA, which takes distorted text from scanned works and turns it into CAPTCAs that can be used to thwart bots. More than 40,000 websites are using reCAPTCHA. Win-win! More from Science (subscription required to read article).