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Episode 908: I Am Not A Robot

I am not not not a robot.
via Google

If you've ever signed up for anything online, you've probably taken a CAPTCHA test. Maybe you deciphered some scrambled letters and numbers. Maybe you clicked on a bunch of pictures of stop signs. Or maybe you just clicked a box that said "I am not a robot."

These tests are one of the annoyances we put up with to do stuff on the Internet. But the story of CAPTCHA is shockingly interesting. It includes the rise of artificial intelligence, the quest to digitize millions of old books and newspapers, and a shady underworld of human beings paid to solve thousands of CAPTCHAs a day.

Music: "Let's Start A Movement," and "Numbers Game."

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Noel King is a host of Morning Edition and Up First.
Jacob Goldstein is an NPR correspondent and co-host of the Planet Money podcast. He is the author of the book Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing.