Jim Westergren
About me, my projects, SEO, Web Development and Personal Development since 2005
"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas A. Edison

Human or Machine, Can You See a Difference?

Can you imagine a world in which you have to establish systems in order to detect if an intelligence is machine created or comes from a real human?

Scientists and programmers has already been developing such systems. No, I am not talking about a far future here, I am talking about 2002. The first system to prevent machine intelligence from using web sites was developed in 2002 and is known as the CAPTCHA project. What is today known as Captcha is a method of using a generated random image of letters and numbers and forcing the web user to repeat it before going further.

That was 4 years ago.

Today the machine intelligence is so advanced that almost no matter how complex the generated image is the intelligence figures it out. A recent study showed a 92% success rate.

As an owner of an IT company I own a lot of web sites. A few days ago I found out that one of the members of my Swedish online forum was actually a bot, not a human. The bot was posting fractions of sentences which other people had posted in their posts in related context which made it look like he was reinforcing statements and it looked very natural. This was even in the Swedish language.

I remember that almost a year ago I discovered a bot on another online forum and announced that on the discussion thread. The bot had already done 200 posts on that forum and the other forum users had at that point still not realized that they were discussing with a machine, not a human.

This is only the beginning, think about the future.

As a Sci-Fi writer I have been thinking quite a lot about the future. Artificial Intelligence are still being developed today but it will only be a time question before we have highly sophisticated robots operating in our society doing various tasks.

And the next step from there are Androids. For those of you that don't that term it is "a robot made to resemble a human, usually both in appearance and behavior." The first unsophisticated humanoid robots and even androids has already been developed in Japan such as Repliee Q1 and Repliee R1.

The Repliee R1 is very good at interacting with children, and studies showed that babies react as if she is human.

No, that is not the future - that is today.

Androids will in the future probably be totally illegal and maybe only used by government organizations such as CIA, FBI and the military.

Now to the scary part.

Let's assume we are 40 years in the future and the technology has continued to advance in the same pace. Let's assume illegal organizations are producing illegal androids for specific purposes and you met one on the street. Would you be able to see if it was a human or machine? Probably not. If the users on my forum can be fooled today by a machine intelligence what do you think in 40 years? Or even 20 years?

What if an illegal organization kidnapped and copied the genetic code of your son and produced an android that was exactly the same, would you be able to see a difference? Probably yes, but not easily.


systems to detect if an intelligence is machine created or comes from a real human will be a major deal in the future, not only on the internet but in the day to day world. Imagine your son having to do special tests in an employment interview to verify that he is not an android. It is just like the tests we do today on the internet that verifies that we are not a spam bot but on a much larger scale.

I find that scary.


Human or Computer? Take This Test: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Research/Projects/CS/vision/mori-nyt/page1.html

Up to the Challenge: Computer Scientists Crack a Set of AI-based Puzzles: http://www.siam.org/siamnews/11-02/gimpy.htm

Breaking a Visual CAPTCHA: http://www.cs.sfu.ca/~mori/research/gimpy/

Bot at my forum: http://www.seo-forum.se/medlemmar/dimax.html

Bot at another forum: http://www.v7n.com/forums/members/%2521%2B%2521.html

Humanoid robot at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanoid_robot

Android at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android

Actroid at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actroid

24 Dec 2006

About the Author Jim Westergren Jim Westergren is a Swedish web entrepreneur currently living in Spain. He is happily married and has three lovely children. Some of his interests are web development, SEO and writing.
He is the Founder of DomainStats and N.nu. Read his .