US: Google confirmed that it is currently running an experiment that involves using its reCAPTCHA spam-fighting system to improve data in Google Maps by having users identify things like street names and business addresses.
In conversation with TechCrunch, a Google’s spokesperson said, “We often extract data such as street names and traffic signs from Street View imagery to improve Google Maps with useful information like business addresses and locations. Based on the data and results of these reCaptcha tests, we’ll determine if using imagery might also be an effective way to further refine our tools for fighting machine and bot-related abuse online.”
reCAPTCHA is the system originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University to improve upon the use of CAPTCHAs (aka, the “Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart”) – it is the distorted text meant to stop bots from signing up for online accounts. The reCAPTCHA technology was acquired by Google in 2009.
The system is designed to cut down on spam and fraud, but it also helps digitize the text in printed materials, like books and newspapers. Google has been using reCAPTCHA to digitize content for Google Books, for example, as well as for the Google News archives.