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CAPTCHA is a Voight-Kampff Test

September 21, 2009
I can’t pass the little squiggly-letter test on the Internet. You know how these work: when you’re trying to log into a high-security page on the Internet or post a comment on a blog, the computer will give you a series of messed-up letters in a box and you have to type in what the letters say. It’s supposed to prove you’re a human being and not a computer program trying to spam the site. Humans are smart enough to figure out what the letters are, but computer programs aren’t, right?

Yeah, right.

I tend to get bogged down in minutiae when faced with one of these. Take a look at the following example:

Is it not debatable that that word could spell either “pctding” or “potding?” The p and the t have holes in them; maybe the second letter is actually an o with a hole in it, cleverly disguised as a c. The word might even be “pording,” you never know. And so I guess wrong and the computer gives me back a snippy little message that I have to try again, with a new set of letters that are no better.

There is clearly only one reasonable explanation for this. I must be a replicant and don’t know it.

(Image courtesy of, who apparently makes these sort of things.)

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