Do you know what a “CAPTCHA” is? Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you’re still likely familiar with them. They’re those annoying little word boxes you have to fill out on nearly every website out there to verify that you are, indeed, human (an example can be seen below).
If you are in fact aware of these little boxes, then you know how awful they are. How many times have you come across a CAPTCHA and not been able to discern the archaic hieroglyphics before you? Probably more times than you can count. Some of them are so ridiculously formatted that they look more like a blob than an assortment of letters.
Worst of all, if you get the aforementioned blob CAPTCHA incorrect, the system thinks you’re a robot! And you’ll have to go through the process ALL over again, until you finally (usually randomly) input the right string of letters and numbers.
Well, it turns out that the fine folks at Google have finally decided to respond to the public’s distaste for inscrutable (and for the most part, useless) CAPTCHAs. Don’t think that they did this out of the kindness of their hearts though; the main reason they’re changing it is because CAPTCHAs are able to be bypassed by “99.8%” of computers. So much for all those wasted hours squinting at a few pixels!
With CAPTCHAs gone, what will take its place? Google has the answer. They’ve been developing a CAPTCHA replacement that’s far more user friendly, and requires far less eye-strain on your end. What is it? Basically, it’s a box. A box that you check with the click of your mouse.
Yes, you read that right. Google’s solution is to ask you a simple question: are you a robot? If you’re not, you check their little box.
Though the new CAPTCHA pictured above looks simple, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Apparently, for this to work, Google has to track your online habits (those worried about privacy may be concerned about this, but I’m sure they’ll allow you to opt-out).
Eventually, once Google has a somewhat accurate picture of who you are and what you do, its algorithm can piece together all of the evidence and officially declare that you are, indeed, a human. Thus, when the box pops up asking if you’re a robot, you can check it with confidence, knowing that unless you have what Google deems to be robotic habits online, you’ll pass the test.
If the algorithm hasn’t yet determined whether you’re a robot or not yet, you’ll have to complete a more streamlined version of the CAPTCHA, which, luckily for us, is far easier to complete than the old ones (while being more difficult for computers to crack).
Obviously, the benefits of this are enormous. No longer will you have to stop and wait to fill out pointless gibberish in your quest to traverse the internet. Just a check will do, and you’ll be on your merry way.
This system isn’t quite ready to be implemented fully yet, but when it is, you probably won’t notice too much of a difference at first. Over time though, you’ll see standard CAPTCHA boxes be replaced by the more modern version, and from then on you’ll no longer have to feel like clawing your eyes out when you’re asked to verify your humanity.
To be honest, I feel like something like this should have implemented years ago. I mean, we all found CAPTCHAs annoying, and we also all knew they basically did nothing when it came to stopping computers from pretending they are people.
At least Google is finally doing something about this now. If you’re a user of WordPress, Snapchat, or Humble Bundle, you may have already seen this new CAPTCHA in use. What do you think? Is it better than the old one?
Featured photo credit: CAPTCHA Painting/ Becky Stern via flickr.com