The Future of CAPTCHAs
At AntiCaptcha, we often think about how much longer our service can be relevant. Today, in December 2023, we want to share our conclusions with you.
Picture captchas. Recently, we've seen a return to popularity of using good old fashioned image captchas. The surge in popularity of Recaptcha V2 was followed by frustration and fatigue with this type of bot protection. People were really sick of those traffic lights and cars on coarse-grained, small-sized pictures that were specially degraded to resist bots. Often it took 1-2 minutes to solve such captcha - Google could not believe that you are not a robot. Or from the IP subnet of your ISP there were a lot of attempts to solve the captcha automatically. Users really disliked this captcha, came to us for a browser plugin that solves it automatically, and of course complained to the support of the sites they visited. As a result, many sites are opting for captcha images again.
AI-captcha. A promising direction, in our opinion. Right now, hCaptcha is making the most progress in this field. They are constantly changing their tasks by creating a stream of new types of tasks generated by neural networks like Stable Diffusion. This greatly complicates the work of services and applications that try to solve such a captcha using their AI without human input. Such services break accordingly all the time. AntiCaptcha is protected from this problem, because all our captchas are solved by live humans, which we constantly check and analyze for "humanity".
Here's an idea for a captcha service startup: take the Stable Diffusion neural network, write a simple job generator for it (perhaps GPT will do) that creates jobs consisting of arbitrary adjectives, nouns and verbs, so that you end up with such jobs as "create an image of a yellow dinosaur riding a happy horse on the Moon". A user solving such a captcha must mark all images where one animal rides another, either to find a dinosaur or a happy animal and the like. Generate a significant number of such arbitrary tasks some time ahead and rotate them. This randomness will make it much harder to create automated systems that solve captchas, and it can really be solved by either humans or next-generation Generative AI. It will be much more expensive to solve such captchas on GAI than by live humans because of the cost of computational resources.
That is, we are approaching the point where neural networks will create disposable captchas to be passed by other neural networks - humans or Generative AI. The battle of the robots is coming :).
Another way to develop automation protection is physical keys, with an unique fingerprint. You purchase a separate device that connects to your device via USB or Bluetooth, which, according to some protocol, signs the site's requests with its private key. The site then verifies your signature with the device provider and receives some kind of unique identifier. Versions of iOS 16, Android 9 and above already have support for this technology. The hCaptcha company had a hand in this, but the catch here is that as soon as such technology spreads, there will immediately be people with farms of devices ready to supply signatures in large volumes. Demand always creates supply.
And finally, the final stage of defense: pay-for-action. If you want to register, pay a small fee. For example, company X (Twitter) is conducting an experiment: if you want to post or like something, pay $1 a year. And you will never see any captchas, you will be protected from bots. It seems to us that it will work, because in fact it works now, only you don't notice it. Passing a captcha is micro-labor, you spend from 5 to 120 seconds of your life. Try to calculate how much it costs by dividing your monthly salary by 43200 - that's how many there are minutes a month. Employees on our service get paid for it, but you don't when you pass captcha on some website. That is, you have already been paying for visiting sites for years, you just don't notice it. Those who understand this and value their time, create an account on AntiCaptcha, replenish it with $1, which is enough for a very long time, install our browser plugin and delegate captcha passing to those who value their time cheaper.