Little did I know that at the dawn of the computer age, I would have to prove to a computer that I am a human being, not a computer. Sometimes I find myself staring at a computer screen trying to identify objects from blurry photographs. You know what I mean. I am talking about reCAPTCHA—a company acquired by Google in 2009. It is designed to establish that a computer user is a human being not a bot. Here is the Merriam Webster definition of bots:a computer that has been infected with a bot andcan be used for malicious purposes as part of a network of infected computers. These proxies then sent out instructions to worker bots in set patterns, including templates for spam creation.
Sounds like the plot from a sci-fi horror movie.
In 2014, Google introduced a new system that asks users to click on a checkbox to select images from a group of photographs. I study the photos carefully. reCAPTCHA asks me to identify traffic lights. I see an edge of a traffic light in one corner. Does that count? Identify a storefront. I squint, trying to decide if it is a store or a health clinic. Sometimes I guess wrong. After all, I am human.
Now I read that Google is beta testing an invisible reCAPTCHA system. It monitors user actions and returns a score representing the probability if the user is human or a bot.
I find this creepy. What user actions will they monitor? If I buy toilet paper through Amazon Prime, does that make me more human? Can computers buy toilet paper? Now a computer is rating me on the likelihood that I am a human being. Jeesh.
As I say almost every day, it’s a crazy world out there.