Have you ever wondered why the widely-used iteration of the CAPTCHA technology – reCAPTCHA – presents you with so many traffic-related images to recognize, and thus “solve” the test? Because this Google-owned product is using your work and time to train the company’s machine learning algorithm implemented in driverless cars.
The purpose of captchas is to determine if website visitors are humans, and keep bots away – but due to often being difficult to solve and time-consuming, they have the potential of keeping people away as well, seriously erode the browsing experience of visitors with disabilities, or exploit free labor, as in the case of reCAPTCHAs.
If the under-the-hood services making captchas possible happen to be blocked in a country with internet censorship, it becomes impossible for users to complete the test and access websites that deploy them as a barrier to spam bots.
Browser extensions to the rescue. A new open-source plug-in, Buster, will solve these tests for you by employing automatic speech recognition to solve reCAPTCHA audio challenges. This is done by clicking on the Buster button that appears under the reCAPTCHA box.
“The goal of this project is to improve our experience with captchas, by giving us easy access to solutions already utilized by automated systems,” explains coder and maintainer Armin Sebastian.
The extension is named after a character from the sitcom Arrested Development – and while its usefulness is no joke, this software still has some limitations that make the success rate less than perfect and can lead to temporary blocks – although these can occur while solving multiple challenges a day regardless of whether the extension is installed.
To improve this rate, users can download and install a cross-platform client app (available for Linux, Windows, and macOS) that will work in tandem with the extension to provide it with user input simulation. This function can be enabled from the extension’s options page.
Buster is hosted on GitHub under a free and open source software license, and users are encouraged to support its further development with donations. The extension is available for Firefox, Chrome and Opera browsers.