I normally steer very clear from articles like this, but I was totally fascinated when I heard this. Both rat neurons and human neurons were used to steer a robotic car. They did so completely without computer or human intervention. They literally “thought” about what they wanted to do to complete a task. Interesting take on a Cyborg - don’t start with a human and tear it down and replace it’s extremities with mechanical parts, start with a machine and introduce a blank slate of a human brain tissue. Now, that’s amazing in it’s own right. But where are the applications for us in security? The first thing I thought of was a super advanced system for anomaly detection, but honestly, computers are far better at processing large data sets than people are. Plus brain-masses (for lack of a better term) lack knowledge and experience, so it would take years for them to even understand what they were looking at, let alone be better than a true human analyst. However, there is one thing that struck me as something that people mostly would agree humans should be better at than computers - CAPTCHA breaking.
Image analysis in general - yes, it’s possible, but CAPTCHAs should be easy. Just like a child, you’d have to teach it the alphabet, colors, lines, shapes, and all the basics. Then you’ve have to give it a reward system so it wouldn’t fatigue (read the Terminal Man if you want to see why that part is potentially dangerously problematic). But assuming you can get all that done, there is no reason a human brain-mass shouldn’t be able to solve CAPTCHAs just like a human would. You wouldn’t need a head on it, or really anything else. You could have multi-core human brain-mass computers all shoved into a rack. Just need a way to feed them and you’ve got yourself the most effective human analog CAPTCHA breaking system ever built. Scary and morbid, but extremely effective against all fluctuations in CAPTCHA design, assuming they were taught the parameters.
So what is exactly the definition of a CAPTCHA? I’ve harped on this before. But let’s think about it. What exactly is the measure of a human? Is it cognitive abilities? Then are mentally retarded people no longer considered people? Is it a physical body part? Then are people who have had limbs removed no longer human? What exactly are we trying to measure with a CAPTCHA if indeed the truest definition of such a thing could exist? I think what we are attempting to ascertain most of the time is intent. And with a human brain-mass anti-CAPTCHA system, that would no longer be something we could do. The only thing what we currently think of as CAPTCHAs would still be effective at is increasing the cost of spam. Of course this is all science fiction and riddled with problems, not the least of which is expense. But there are unfathomable military applications for such things, where expense is no longer an obstacle. Skynet may be coming, but it might not be a computer - it might be human brain-mass. Scary.