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No, I am NOT a robot

Not that those CAPTCHA tests they force you to click on really care. That, after all, isn’t what they’re really all about. Of course, and as usual.

This is what clicking that ‘I’m Not A Robot’ button REALLY does — and it’s probably not what you’re thinking
This security method is known as a CAPTCHA, which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. The Turing Test, originally named the Imitation Game, was created by British computer scientist Alan Turing in the 1950s and is designed to put Artificial Intelligence to the test and determine whether it’s indistinguishable from a human mind.

So, is Google simply checking whether AI is smart enough to know to click on the “I’m Not A Robot” button? Not quite.

As revealed by the researchers from BBC’s QI in an episode that first aired in 2020, ticking the box allows Google to trawl your internet browsing history to determine whether you’re a real user or a bot trying to force entry.

QI host and comedian Sandi Toksvig explained: “Ticking the box is not the point. It’s how you behaved before you ticked the box that is analysed. To be honest, I can’t tell you all the details because they keep it secret because they don’t want people trying to cheat the test, but broadly speaking, you tick the box and it prompts the website to check your browsing history.

“For example, before you tick the box you watched a couple of cat videos and you liked a tweet about Greta Thunberg, you checked your Gmail account before you got down to work — all of that makes them think that you must be a human.”

Google, which is behind much of the CAPTCHA security tests you’ll come across online — usually under its reCAPTCHA brand name, can’t access your entire search history. Instead, it’s likely checking websites that it owns (Gmail, YouTube, searches on Google, Google Maps) or those where it has some visibility thanks to the “Sign-In With Google” buttons, analytics or advertising, or the CAPTCHA itself.

That’s a huge proportion of the internet.

So, there must be SOME way out of this—some way of safeguarding your personal privacy and security that doesn’t cost an arm, a leg, and a lot of hassle to protect yourself from yet another Goolag intrusion into what, in the end, is really none of their goddamned business, right? RIGHT?!?

No. No, there is not.

Unfortunately, if you think that using a private browsing mode in your web browser, like Incognito Mode in Google Chrome, keeps your data out of reach ― that’s not the case. In fact, Google was recently forced to add a new warning to its Incognito Mode feature to keep users in the loop about the risks.

The only way to keep your browsing history completely out-of-reach is to encrypt everything with a Virtual Private Network. NordVPN is an example of a VPN that keeps everything you do online locked away— so that even Google or your broadband provider is unable to see what you’re doing. Prices start from £3.19.

As well as trawling a slither of your recent internet history to work out whether you’re behaving like a real human being, there is another use for the CAPTCHA quizzes that you complete. Picking the correct image of a fire hydrant, zebra crossing, or school bus is actually helping to train Artificial Intelligence behind-the-scenes.

Not a single bit of which most if not all of us are interested in helping them out with, or so I’d bet. Bastards.

I must say, Tor looks better and better all the time.

(Via Stephen and Ed)

4 thoughts on “No, I am NOT a robot

    1. The you’ll mate with a female robot and assemble a baby robot.
      Please program little Ikenny to hunt down and kill the google bots roaming the internet…

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