When it comes to proving we are who we are on the internet, few endeavours annoy as much as the eternally infernal CAPTCHA system, introduced as long ago as 1997. When signing up for an online account or accessing a particular page, often an irritating little addition would lurk at the bottom of the screen asking the user, having already entered enough details to warrant a pass into Buckingham Palace, to copy some indecipherable hieroglyphs into an unattractive little empty box. Then the CAPTCHA-bots would decide that what was clearly a number ‘4’ was actually the letter ‘A’ and would ask you to do it all over again.
In later iterations, an even more irritating and seemingly arbitrary formula was introduced where users were asked to ‘click the squares in the picture that contain the road sign’. Does it mean the squares that only contain the road sign or the squares that also contain the post the sign is attached to? Did I miss one? Is that technically a road-sign or tourist information? These are all questions that have been asked at one point or another whilst somebody was trying to navigate a ‘CAPTCHA’ security system; along with, what does ‘GRACYXTOY’ mean and does it even say ‘GRACYXTOY’? Perhaps it’s ‘GR4CYXTOY’ or ‘GRACYXTOX’? and ‘why is all my hair in my fists?
If you’ve ever been confronted by a group of tiny, blurry pictures and asked to ‘click the pictures that contain a storefront’ only to imagine that they could all potentially contain a storefront and actually what constitutes a ‘store-front’ is open to debate and interpretation, you’ll know precisely what I’m on about.
Well, there’s good news. Google has just said that CAPTCHA is no more. It is an ex-captcha; it ceases to exist. Our future is now CAPTCHA-less, or should that be ‘CAPTCHA-le55’? Even I don’t know anymore. This is excellent news for anybody who uses the internet and doesn’t enjoy pointless tests to see whether or not they can A) see or hear, B) think slightly, and C) press a button. I know that the whole thing was set up to stop machines from creating multiple online accounts but cars can tell ‘which square’ a road-sing is in nowadays, and the last time I checked mobile telephones could read anything that’s written in them.
Perhaps that’s the point; technology AI has far overtaken such a simple system of verifying an identity as being organic. This annoying but chronic hiccough in the usability of 21st century human’s greatest technical ally, the Internet, has finally been cured and I for one am glad to see the BacKoFit.