Friday, July 6, 2012

We're "improving" Street View for Google.

edit: new stuff at the bottom of the post
At least, I think we are.

Yall know what Street View is, right? If you look up an address on Google Maps, then click on the little person icon, you get a photograph of that address taken by a SV van that rolled through the neighborhood at some point. Here's a Street View of the 99 Ranch in Daly City.


And here's a house that sits just across the street from 99 Ranch. (At least they don't have to worry about parking!)


Ok, so Google has all these pictures of houses.

Have you noticed how the captcha words have changed? Remember how it was just one gibberish word for a long time, then they went to a two-word system with one scanned-in word from a book and one totally incomprehensible gibberish word, and we all hated it? But then the scanned-in word disappeared, and we started getting numbers instead.











They are cropped-out pictures of house numbers. From Street View. I have absolutely no evidence, except that it looks pretty fucking obvious to me. I have no good theory for why Google is doing this. I'm totally creeped out, but I know that's just a kneejerk reaction. What do you think?


eta:

It's not some anti-spam measure, it's Google using us as mechanical turks. I did a little testing, and it looks like you can fill in any number or letter (I tried up to 7 letters) for the "number picture" part of the capcha.



20 comments:

  1. Honestly, the first thought that comes to mind is "That is just f'd up and weird"

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  2. Instant reaction: "Why do they need US doing their work for them after so long of the system (likely) figuring out the numbers itself?" Time to see if I know anyone at Google that can give me answers.. strange!

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  3. Takes all the fun out. I can't read the things half the time.

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  4. I think its weird and I can never read those darn things no matter what they do. That verification thing sucks.

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  5. Holy fucking shit. You are totally right.

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  6. Something very creepy about that, though I can't exactly pinpoint why. I'm glad I live in a non street-view area!

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  7. omg... i never noticed that... creeeepy

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  8. It is kind of weird. And a little creepy, although I recognized that the numbers had come from pictures, it just didn't dawn on me where they were getting the pictures.

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  9. I had exactly the same thought today. Doesn't creep me out, though.

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  10. Excellent conspiracy theory! And that's just plain creepy!

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  11. My guess is that reusing the same images weakens the captcha since bots could be preprogrammed to recognize them. Streetview images, otoh, provide a near-infinite source of unique images.

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  12. ......Just plain creepy. I wonder if anyone ever recognises their own house number?

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  13. They are soooo busted! LOL!

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  14. You've got me wondering too! Conspiracy Theory?

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  15. Google street view creeps me out period - recycling of house numbers aside. (although many of them remind me of overseas house numbers, if that's any less creepy)

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  16. Okay, well I read that link on Mechanical Turks and didn't understand a word it says. Sounds like some sci-fi book, and I was never a sci-fi fan.
    I get so mad when the word(s) for the verification are unreadable. And I've tried using the option for the visually impaired, but the spoken verification word is even more impossible to understand.

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  17. Wow! How observant are you!
    I'm not sure how I feel about it TBH. I wouldn't have thought of putting in random crap for that part of word verification, it really does make a good conspiracy theory!

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  18. I pressed the little ? on a WV and this is (part) of what it said:

    By entering the words in the box, you are also helping to digitize texts that were written before the computer age. The words that you see were taken directly from old texts that are being scanned and stored in digital format in order to preserve them and make them more accessible to the world. Since some of the words in these texts are difficult for computers to process, we are using the results of your efforts to help decipher them.

    Those are f'n words!? Seriously? What languague? How old?

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  19. pretty cool you made this association... the network tv show Person of Interest comes to mind with Caviezel, doesn't it??? We are all being watched... and as bad as this is, it's not any worse than Google Earth where anyone can zoom in on your property.. technology sucks...

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  20. Since you posted this, I've taken perverse pleasure in entering any random crap for the streetview numbers identification. Let's mess up the system :-D

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