Captchivating, or Why I’m Doubting My Humanity

Yesterday, I failed a human test. Quarter of an hour clicking on random pictures trying to prove I’m flesh and blood to a machine. But the sad thing is: a machine would’ve done a better job.

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I don’t know how many attempts it took me until I stumbled across the combination they were looking for. The challenges were straightforward enough; something any human could do, surely? Except when you’ve failed for the third time, you start to wonder just how distinct the answer really is. Like identifying store fronts. For one thing, that’s a shop for me. It’d be helpful if the Yankee-Doodle-McNumpties could localise their bloody products! For another, what really constitutes a shop front? That colourfully pixelated image could be a market stall, an advertising banner or indeed a flower shop for all I can tell. And where does one draw the line? Does the hairdresser’s count as a shop? How about a funeral director’s?

And then there are the street signs. What exactly is one of those? For me, a street sign is one with a named road on it; anything else would be a road sign. Logically. Ignoring those doesn’t work, so maybe they should be included. But how far do you go? Do those pixels in the next box count? Does the edge of the sign? Does the post? What about that sign in Japanese? It could be an advert for free beeswax for all know. And that grey triangle is clearly the back of a road sign. Include it or no?

Even something as mundane as identifying roads left me scratching my head. I clicked whenever I saw tarmac, but apparently there’s more to roads than just the road itself. But then including every picture with a road sign didn’t seem to help either, and if we’re going to that extent, virtually all the horizontal landscape shots they show will probably have some kind of road component to it.

After a tiring quarter of an hour clicking through picture after picture, I finally lucked out and was verified as a human being (with some severe cyborg tendencies, it would appear). If I hadn’t been trying to donate, I’d probably have given up much sooner. Life’s too short for jumping through electronic hoops. Now where can I find an automated captcha script?

[Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash]

Random Quote

Ich fürchte, wir werden Gott nicht los, weil wir noch an die Grammatik glauben.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

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