Am I the Only One Who Has CAPTCHA Anxiety?

October 16, 2018 / by Ronald Tichenor

There’s already enough anxiety that comes with owning and using crypto. With every move we make and every account we sign into, we have some concerns. Will my transaction go through? Are my funds safe on that exchange? What if my wallet is hacked?

But nowadays, I have anxiety about even signing in to my account, and I’m not even talking about the funds. Because, for some strange reason, even though we haven’t come close to the singularity, and robots aren’t running the world (yet), on a daily basis I have to prove that I am human. And sometimes, I’m not very good at it. Apparently.

You’ve probably experienced the humanity check when you try to sign in to a website or account. I’m talking about those dreaded CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA forms — the box you have to click to prove you’re human, or the obscured squiggly lines you have to read, or By Grabthar’s Hammer not the 9-picture frame popup where you select the traffic lights or school buses.

You probably didn’t know that CAPTCHA stands for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.’ What is so automated about it when you make the human do the work? Anyway, it was developed at Carnegie Mellon University to allow people to use websites without the websites being exploited by bots.

When it’s just clicking a box, it isn’t too much of a problem, however annoying it is. But developers figured out how to get the bots to recognize and check the box, so they could exploit the website. So the cycle of violence continued, and website developers upped the ante and developed the hideous CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA with its 9 insidious pictures.
Eventually, the bots will figure out the traffic lights and school buses, too. Then what will they make us humans do?

I recently wrote about my worst humanity check experience. For my own sanity I won’t relive that moment here, but I need to dwell on this. Sorry, I can’t let things go. I hold grudges. I find this humanity check disturbing. The easiest solutions to implement almost always fall on the user or consumer. Can’t we find a way to make the bot prove it’s not a bot and leave the human alone?

Ideally, technology is completely seamless and transparent. When we’re online we’re temporarily immersed in a secondary world. And when we get jolted out of it by being constantly reminded of what we’re doing and even forced to do the technology’s work for it, it takes away from the experience. When someone comes up with a better way, and leaves us in that world, we’ll flock to it.

This is a weird time. We have to put up with some strange things to navigate these new technologies. Years from now much of this will be as laughable as the dial-up noise from 1995. My hope is that we’re on the verge of a technological revolution in experience as much as capability. The UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience) of this secondary cyber world has to improve to meet the challenges of this next wave of innovation.

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