Saturday, 7 September 2013

I, Robot?

Since publishing my debut novel, The Outback, I have had to dramatically increase the time that I spend on social media. This has led to me having to remember a slew of different passwords, as well as also regularly having to prove to each individual website that I am human. To do this I have to pass a CAPTCHA test. I am sure that anybody reading will be familiar with the process, but what they may not know is that CAPTCHA is actually an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. With that purpose in mind, I cannot help but think that the tests are becoming a little too difficult.

The most common form of CAPTCHA's are the distorted text images, which look as if they have been written on water. Sometimes these are so heavily distorted that I often take two or three attempts to pass. However, I am increasingly seeing a switch to a test appearing in the form of a question and these really do throw me sometimes.

What is the first season of the year?

Call me pedantic, but does not anybody else find the above question a little ambiguous? For a start, it is not clear if it means the season falling on January 1st (winter) or the first season to begin in a calender year (spring). The answer may also depend on which hemisphere we are in. When it is winter in the North it is summer in the South. Likewise, spring in the North becomes autumn in the South. And what about countries who defy the conventional idea of four seasons - wet, dry, monsoon, hurricane etc? I'll be honest, I actually gave up on signing up to the website.

6 x 9 = ?

Okay, this one is fairly straightforward. We all know that the answer is the meaning of life. On a serious note though, how many people would have reached for a calculator to save the embarrassment of answering incorrectly. I cannot help but see the irony in turning to a computer in order to cheat a test to prove that you are not a computer.

I look forward to the day when we can access all of our media through a single interface. When we no longer need passwords or to prove that we are not robots. Of course, in order to do this we may have to have some sort of microchip implanted in our brain. When that happens, the Turing Test really will become redundant as we will ourselves be living, organic computers.

If you found this post interesting, why not sign up to join my blog using one of the tools on the sidebar to the right. You can also check out my two self published novels The Outback and Stealing Asia. Both are available as ebooks and paperbacks.

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