5/15/2017

Apparently bots are now beating us to all the best campsites, because of course.


The automated internet gremlins may be scooping up some of America’s most sought-after wilderness retreats in advance of their dumb mortal counterparts (us, the humans), reports KQED. I don’t know about you, but an inability to snag a tent site in Yosemite is a detail of AI dystopia I never considered.

Going camping is a very effective gateway to caring about protecting natural environments, albeit one that is systematically less accessible to city-dwellers and people of color. So it’s bad news indeed if that access to the outdoors is further restricted to those with the know-how to employ bots to scan campsite-booking websites for cancellations, or just automatically book up whatever is available.

There are measures to stop the bots — namely, website terms of agreement and those CAPTCHA word- or image-recognition tests — but those are not impossible for enterprising programmers to beat. More stringent measures, like two-factor authentication, are rare on reservation sites.

But there’s a simpler way to fight bot-tyranny, as KQED points out: Make reservations over the phone. We’ve got maybe five whole years before computers can beat us at that game, too....via