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When was the first Macintosh computer released?

1467 B.C.

Needs some work...

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skizm 7 days ago | link

That's alright, wolfram alpha tells you the date the raincoat was invented when you plug in that question. (google gets it right)

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This is a very long video. What was nice in it? Can you give some highlights?

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Digging in to the journal article, the technique they use can only scale to captchas with 8 characters or less, so having a longer word is a simple fix.

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We work on hard stuff (http://vicarious.com/) and we're always looking for exceptional people

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Ha, nice demo presentation.

One minor piece of feedback: add slide number out of total below the slide.

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We think so (http://vicarious.com/), but we are obviously biased.

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We seriously considered Last Invention as an alternative name, and actually still own lastinvention.com. For a bunch of reasons, we decided on Vicarious instead. :)

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fuelfive 688 days ago | link

IIRC, the reasons were:

- Depending on how you read it, Last Invention can sound really ominous.

- LI is a bit of a mouthful to say, whereas Vicarious is a single word

- People generally responded better to Vicarious as a name when we asked around

Never heard of The Last One...

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finnw 688 days ago | link

I'll guess this is one of the reasons? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_One_(software)

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Unfortunately, this attack does nothing to advance the state of the art in OCR (or audio recognition). It's basically the same story as every other CAPTCHA attack to date: take advantage of some accidental statistical regularity in the generation function. As soon as this kind of flaw is discovered, it only takes a few hours for the generation code to be patched in such a way that completely prevents this sort of attack from working.

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fghh45sdfhr3 756 days ago | link

So either the code is easy to patch, or we DO advance. Win/Win?

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xibernetik 756 days ago | link

Not really... Even if the code is difficult to patch, speech/audio recognition doesn't advance much when an attacker figures out how to remove the (non-random) noise added by a machine over the sound file. Actual speech recognition relies on the ability to filter out background noise - which is a lot more complex/random - added by surroundings, not a machine.

It's very difficult to generate some sort of noise via algorithm that a) humans can filter out and b) can't be removed by some algorithm. As a result, audio captchas are a huge vulnerability and the weakest link in almost any captcha system, although you can't get rid of them by law.

Hypotheticals aside, the code was easy to patch - note the footnote: > In the hours before our presentation/release, Google pushed a new version of reCAPTCHA which fully nerfs our attack.

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d2vid 756 days ago | link

Could one take real recorded noise and add that rather than noise generated via algorithm? Wouldn't that force attackers to solve a real problem (removing background noise from an speech sample)?

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xibernetik 756 days ago | link

It's not really solving the "real" problem... If I'm just mashing two audio files together, that's going to be different than someone talking in the middle of a train platform and there will likely be algorithmicly-determinable difference from the artificially generated words and the naturally generated noise.

All of this aside, removing background noise is not a huge issue anymore. We have pretty decent noise-cancellation technology. Speech recognition - the other big component - has advanced a lot in recent times and is actually pretty good, although not for every company/product.

Even if it would be helpful, you'd have to record an incredible amount of noise in the first place, seeing as you're getting millions of hits a day and if you have a small sample set, the attackers will just figure out the solutions to that sample set and be done.

I'm not saying it's impossible, but I am saying it's probably not worth it at this point. Captchas (in their traditional forms) don't make sense as a long-term strategy anyways.

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robryan 756 days ago | link

Yeah, you would think they could record thousands of hours of real world noise then randomly use sections of it on each audio captcha.

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A1kmm 756 days ago | link

If the attacker manages to obtain all the random noise, they could index every window in the noise in a k-d-tree and perform an efficient nearest neighbour search for the exact background from the CAPTCHA audio, and then simply subtract the background, giving perfect segmentation in O(log(N)) asymptotic average time complexity for N windows (at 64kHz and 2000 hours of audio, N=460800000, log N = 19.95).

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jopt 756 days ago | link

That kind of Win-Win is also a Lose-Lose. It's just a glass-half-empty thing.

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It's beautiful. Who's your designer?

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A friend of mine attended last year. He described it as "the most socially awkward people you've ever met telling you how to be less socially awkward".

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vitno 822 days ago | link

that doesn't sound like the description at all...

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Eliezer 822 days ago | link

It's possible that somebody is confusing this with an LW meetup, or possibly the Megacamp (that didn't work nearly as well as the one-week Minicamp which is why we aren't repeating it), or something else. Attendees of the previous Minicamp were nearly unanimous about how awesome it was, and they weren't socially awkward.

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SilasX 822 days ago | link

Well, those who publicly spoke about it were unanimous in its being awesome. SIAI isn't very open about stats for the remainder.

Also, I don't think a regular LW meetup would be described as involving "teaching people to be less socially awkward".

I've followed LessWrong, and I hadn't heard anything, until the GP, about it giving off such an aura of "the blind leading the blind".

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rms 822 days ago | link

I expect that Scott's friend generally had a great experience at the camp and made a somewhat flippant and self-deprecating comment that was appropriate in a social context, but wasn't Scott's friend's most important takeaway from the experience.

You can see all of the feedback to the survey question asking what about the camp could be improved here: http://lesswrong.com/lw/b98/minicamps_on_rationality_and_awe...

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SilasX 821 days ago | link

Who's Scott?

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rms 821 days ago | link

fuelfive

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Eliezer 821 days ago | link

No, we took surveys and everyone except one person rated in the 9-10 range, I believe.

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SilasX 821 days ago | link

And then in a few months everyone promptly returned to their status quo ante minicamp ... or at least, the available results are observationally equivalent thereto.

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Eliezer 819 days ago | link

Your statement is false as a matter of fact. We have a one-year life-outcomes followup study planned, but the preliminary indications don't fit with 'status quo', and there are plenty of participant comments on the LW thread which explicitly say otherwise. Stop making stuff up.

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grandalf 822 days ago | link

I think your friend should go back to watching sports and eating wings.

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