D. Herbert

Monday, August 22, 2005

Windows Vista, HWR, and Spam

Most of the turing tests used to distinguish between humans and spambots involve reading characters (numbers or letters) from an image that has been distorted.

They work on the principle that computer programs cannot easily recognize distorted characters. OCR (optical character recognition) software is good at reading Times New Roman text off a print page, but isn't so good at recognizing distorted characters (so far as I know).

The upcoming OS Windows Vista will have a Tablet Edition, and this will sport advanced HWR (handwriting recognition software that interprets "ink" drawn on the screen as characters). I think these ink characters are generally more deformed than the printed characters most OCR schemes are designed to identify.

Not only will Vista be better at recognizing characters, but it will make it easier to integrate HWR into applications.

Will it be possible to take advantage of Vista's HWR to automate the process of recognizing the distorted characters from an image? If so, this would go a long way towards defeating that form of turing test. I don't know what sort of test we could use to replace that, if any.

If we can't come up with a new test, we'll have to give up on anonymous comments and instead rely on registration schemes like Blogger's or TypeKey (which are of course already infiltrated by spambots, but they could be taken a step further, for instance by requiring a member in good standing to hand out new registrations, such as with G-Mail)

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