Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA) is a program that is commonly known to be used to verify that you are indeed human and not a robot while accessing a website.
“Click all the squares that contain traffic lights.”
The application has a bit of a backstory. From 2011, reCAPTCHA was used to digitize millions of New York Times articles that dated as far as 1851. Typing tests asked users to prove their humanity by recognizing obscured or warped text and correctly identifying a string combination of numbers and upper and lower case letters. Optical character recognition programs became more sophisticated, aided by humans answering these CAPTCHA tests. Visual tests followed, requiring that users identify certain objects within a picture split into several squares.
CAPTCHA tests were once as easy as one-click to check off a box. Today, CAPTCHA tests have become a little more rigorous—and a little bit more tedious.
Exactly what is CAPTCHA trying to do?
CAPTCHA tests are mostly used for security, but they’re also used to improve artificial intelligence. The program tests the same content on users around the world and aggregates responses to determine accuracy. This then helps train Google’s artificial intelligence, which is used to improve applications like Google Maps and Google Images.
“In 2014, Google pitted one of its machine learning algorithms against humans in solving the most distorted text CAPTCHAs: the computer got the test right 99.8 percent of the time, while the humans got a mere 33 percent.”— “WHY CAPTCHAS HAVE GOTTEN SO DIFFICULT“, Verge
It’s no surprise that one of the inventors of CAPTCHA is passionate about education and technology. His inventions have not only taught robots and humans alike. Luis von Ahn is the co-founder of CAPTCHA as well as the popular language-learning application Duolingo. He is the recipient of the prestigious 2018 Lemelson-MIT prize, which awards those whose inventions have significantly improved society.
There is another invention that involves artificiality imitating reality to significantly improve society. Specifically, it has improved the lives of countless homeowners. It saves people the time, money, and hassle of mowing, watering, and treating their lawns.
Artificial turf is a miracle for those who want everything about a beautiful green lawn without any of the hangups of real lawn maintenance. It may not be real grass, but artificial turf is about as close to having a real lawn maintained by AI robot gardeners. That said, we’re unlikely to see robots doing our gardening any time soon.
Synthetic grass not only allows homeowners to be more carefree, but it is also more durable, meaning that it can withstand wear and tear and the elements. Moreover, your lawn will look picture-perfect year-round, which is nearly impossible in many parts of the country.
There is no shame in fixing a real problem with a synthetic solution. If it makes your life easier, then you deserve to replace your lawn with artificial grass. After all, all revolutionary inventions were borne out of an all-too-common situation that had to be improved.