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B. Efforts Underway to Reduce Spam E-mail

Narrator: This is Science Today. In an effort to reduce the amount of spam in your E-mail's inbox, web-based E-mail groups are working with computer vision researchers to update their security systems. Jitendra Malik, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, says in order to separate human users from computer-robots, security screenings target the human ability to easily decipher a distorted word.

Malik: Human beings, when we look at some scene in front of us, we are able to recognize objects, identify people, that sort of thing. And computer programs have so far from this, it's quite difficult to duplicate.

Narrator: But Malik recently cracked an existing security code, called EZ-Gimpy, which is currently used by Yahoo!

Malik: Even though our technique does break it, since we have not made the code publicly available, it is so far not the case that various spam artists have been able to use our technique to try to defeat the Yahoo system.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.