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There is no evil like reCAPTCHA (thestoic.me)
557 points by eitland 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 283 comments

I prefer the newer captchas personally.

Google sucks nowadays. So much of what it does just makes technology and the web worse, not better.

tldr: Author claims reCAPTCHAs will get incrementally harder and force users to do strange things like turn on their webcams or open other devices to confirm their identity. Eventually people will pay Google to bypass the system.

All plausible...

The current new captcha is invisible. It's no less evil since Google recommends to put it on all your pages...

Well, it's only invisible if all pages / tabs you visit share the same cookie / session store. With browsers implementing more and more of privacy-focusing features this becomes less and less frequent.

If I use Safari private mode (each tab has its own cookie store) or Firefox with containers and cookie auto delete extension every tab I open, every page I visit gets a brand new Google session. Obviously, Google treats my like a bot.

Not true. Google has made a new capture system that only requires you to click a checkbox.

Try using Tor with one of those captchas -- you will get a whole load of puzzles and picture matching goodness (usually having to solve multiple in a row). It can easily take me several minutes to pass a reCAPTCHA challenge when using Tor. And even then, sometimes Google will even refuse to give you a challenge at all!

…which will only work if Google can track you.

Hmm I don't know. It's been 10 years since I've been hearing that self driving cars are right around the horizon. And we now know we're nowhere close to it.

If this recaptcha helps google, or for that matter, any company, accelerate their self driving capability, I'd fully support it.

Billions of tax dollars and breaks are going to self-driving research, which is fucking insane. America needs to build back it's public rail infrastructure. Passenger rail is a solved problem, and the US use to have more passenger rail that Europe. We have one of the best freight rail systems in the world, but we have high speed rail in New England and Florida. That's it. Maybe California if they can get their shit together.

I wrote an article about this before, and talk about how even if you had a four lane high way with nothing but self driving cars, all filled and traveling at 120kph bumper to bumper, you wouldn't even come close to approaching 10% of the capacity of a single track metro light rail line running with 2 minute headway (during rush hour headways can be less than 2min, and with automated systems like those in Singapore and the new ones coming to London's underground--DLR is already automated--you can get headways of less than a minute or even 30 seconds)


Sure self driving cars could help in Europe with the last leg where they have real transport infrastructure, but the US is so far behind that successful self driving cars would just add to grid-lock.

This discussion has been well hashed before, but comes down to the US being very big. People are far more spread out here than anywhere in Europe or Asia. This also makes last-mile transport even more critical if you aren't close to the station. The distances also drive up the cost and waits between trains, further reducing ridership.

High-speed mid/long distance passenger rail just isn't viable given our population densities, and we already have metros/subways/light-rail in core metropolitan areas. Without major construction with hundreds of new lines and a shift in city planning, it's unlikely to ever change in the US.

That is the worst possible argument. Australia has a fraction of our population and every one of their capitals (except for Darwin and Hobart) has a very good rail system. Sure they don't have high speed, but they could easily saturate a Sydney to Melbourne high speed route (if Melbourne didn't waste a few billion on their ticketing system).

Russia has high speed rail and it's less dense than the United States. China created their high speed system in less than a decade.

This argument comes up all the time and it's so poor. The United States use to have more passenger rail than Europe does now! You build light city rail and immediately, new housing and commercial stuff pops up around it. It can potentially reduce drunk driving as well.

The US/density argument is really tired and just doesn't hold up when you really look at it.

We do have passenger rail, it's not fast but you can travel the whole country. We also do have intra-city surface and underground lines.

The issue of why we don't have more and faster rail is a multifactorial problem of city size, zoning, spread, and alternate transportation. The US only has 3 major population centers, and they're very wide. The rest of the population lives in thousands of small and midsize cities spread far apart.

This is the worst combination for expensive railways and stations, and requires solid last-mile coverage. This means cars, and if you have cars then they already provide similar speeds, better coverage, more freedom, and lower costs. The only feasible plan is high-speed long-haul that doesn't stop anywhere in the middle, but demand for that is weak because people do live in the middle, and air-travel is faster and cheaper at those distances.

Lower population with a few big cities like Australia is a much better fit. If the US just had 3-5 major cities all along a single coastline then we would also have a similar railway network.

Correction: Russia doesn't really have high-speed trains, except one tiny line which doesn't count if you consider the size of the country.

It’s quite generous to say that Australian capitals have very good rail systems. They exist, sure. Patronage (especially in sydney) has been growing at a huge level (partially due to the traffic nightmare, a side effect of the geography). But it’s a long way from good or optimal.

But yes, if we built high speed rail linking Melbourne - Canberra - sydney - Brisbane we would have one hell of an east coast system

We could stop all of the subsides to people that live in areas unsuitable for transit -- subsidies like access to cheap (well, free) roads, cheap fuel, etc.

How is giving people free anything mean we are not subsidizing them?

My point was that we are subsidizing them by giving them free/cheap single-user transportation options. I clarified my comment

Your facts are irreverent. High speed rail isn't useful for the NYC-LA travel. However the NYC to Atlanta, GA route is much shorter and would work well for high speed rail. That is just one of many possible routes where good rail would be good.

How can facts be irreverent?

What is special about NYC to ATL? The distance is about 900 miles via road. The land costs alone would reach into the billions, and there are lots of cities in the middle that will require stops, which severely slows down travel time. And how many people are really commuting between both endpoints? And how many would choose a train over a plane?

Those are good questions, I'll give a quick summary of the answer. Others have gone into a lot more thought.

NYC to ATL is special because the distance is short enough that people would take a high speed train over the plane - even if the train is slightly more expensive the overall travel time (including the hour advance arrival at the airport) is similar and the train gives you more space/comfort.

This is a non-stop train. Most of the cities in between would not get a stop! Not giving every tiny town along teh way greatly speeds things up and is critical to making it work. Other big cities along the way will get their own non-stop train. Little cities may have a low speed rail connection to the big city, but it cannot be on the same track.

This is not a commuter train. People who live in one city and work in the other should move. People who work in one city, but sometimes have face to face meetings in the other will take the train.

We already see the New York to Boston train having success using this model - the distance is smaller, but the trains are slower. We can use this as a model for how many people would take the train over the plane and why.

You are correct that it would cost billions. That is something that needs to be carefully considered. People have done the math and say it works out, but it is worth checking their assumptions. The construction costs are amortized over many years though, so the costs shouldn't be too bad.

Some thoughts: I think rail adoption becomes a lot more feasible if people can summon self driving cars on demand. The problem with rail is that it's hard for people who are currently driving to get behind because its usefulness is dependent on how built out the network is and building out rail networks is slow and expensive. And while the network has low coverage, getting to and from rail stations is a pain in the ass. But if you can just hail an Uber or Lyft, but the Uber or Lyft is really cheap because it doesn't require a human driver, then getting to and from the rail station becomes a non-issue. And I think that can turn the all or nothing paradigm of rail as it currently exists into something where incremental progress is just as useful whether you're starting from 0% existing coverage or 80% existing coverage.

> But if you can just hail an Uber or Lyft, but the Uber or Lyft is really cheap because it doesn't require a human driver, then getting to and from the rail station becomes a non-issue.

We're a long ways away from self driving cars being really cheap. That self driving Uber network would need a lot of capital investment that they initially were able to avoid because they piggybacked on drivers already having to own cars anyway.

I agree that A) the technology is not there, and B) it would require a lot of capital. I still think it's the most realistic approach to passenger rail utilization in most of the U.S. It will take decades to build out high coverage passenger rail in the U.S. That's a lot of time for technology to mature and for capital to be deployed.

I am certainly on your side when it comes to mass rail transit being a really good solution for inter-city transportation. Especially now in the age where intra-city transit is so easy with uber/lyft.

The problem as it stands is land easements. Acquiring land in the US for larger social benefit at the expense of the land owner is generally A BIG FUCKIN NO NO. This premise has essentially locked many well planned rail projects from the get go. This just isn't a problem for the promise of self-driving car technology. Further more the opportunity cost argument is really weak. Al la "had we not spent so much money trying invent self driving cars we could have improved our rail system X times over ect." Because we have developed so much other technology out of that quest.

I dream of a day where there is a high speed rail system that connects the entire west coast. It would be a GIGANTIC boon for trade and commerce IMO.

Self-driving cars were right around the corner in the 1980s, too. There was an AI conference shortly before the last AI Winter where this was remarked upon. I'm kicking myself for not saving the transcript; self-driving cars, worries of regular people losing their jobs, clueless reporters grossly inflating regular people's expectations, etc.

Solving self driving will go hand in hand with solving flying cars. When cars can fly self driving is trivial and lanes above can be controlled. The streets can go back to bikes and walking and for older cars.

flying requires an order of magnitude more energy compared to driving. It won't be be a feasible method of mass transportation anytime soon.

That's how long it will take for mass adoption of self driving cars.

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