In the early 2000s, simple images of text were enough to stump most spambots. 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.
Google then moved to NoCaptcha ReCaptcha, which observes user data and behavior to let some humans pass through with a click of the “I’m not a robot” button, and presents others with the image labeling we see today. But the machines are once again catching up. All those awnings that may or may not be storefronts? They’re the endgame in humanity’s arms race with the machines.
Sadly, CAPTCHA’s seem like a necessary evil of today’s internet.