top of page

Year            2020

Form           Script, video documentation

Programing language    Python

CAPTCHA stands for  the “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”


CAPTCHAs were first invented in the late 1990s, widely used on the Internet to prevent bots from signing up for accounts, spamming comments, and buying products. For example, a large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack; a DDoS is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic. 


At first, the CAPTCHA’s quest mostly consisted of text in different fonts, size, distorted, twisted, or rotated made it nearly impossible for a bot to solve. But as the hacking tech evolves, these tasks need to be harder to fight against bots, which even makes them more difficult for humans to solve.


In 2003, a research team from Carnegie Mellon University raised the question about the time and energy humans wasted on solving those meaningless word quizzes. So one of the team members, Luis von Ahn, created the first reCAPTCHA, which is used in solving real text scanned from books, documents, or images. Which is later bought by Google. Today those data humans replied can be used to digitize millions of books per year, also in other different usages, like digitizing street names and numbers on Google Maps.


But this still doesn’t solve the problem of humans being defeated more easily than a trained bot. So when Google release the second version of reCAPTCHA, it had the slogan of “no CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA”, the main purpose was to use other factors to distinguish humans and robots by other elements more than just from recognizing image or text.


So the reCAPTCHA v2 is strongly based on the user browser data, it is said that when a user clicks on the “I am not a robot“ check box, Google will analyze your behavior before, during, and after clicking the checkbox to determine whether you appear human. Also, rumor said it also analyzes your mouse trace, IP address, or browsing history.


From this point as a starting point, I started a small experiment, using a script to make the mouse trace unstable and try to interact with the reCAPTCHA v2 check box. The question appears if the instability of our mouse trace can be part of the proof of “we are real”, is the unstable state closer to reality than something stable and efficient? Or the stable it’s only a subjective sense that we’re still able to have control over something.


During the pandemic, there are more and more factors in our daily life appear to be out of our personal control. In this experiment, the instability of our own mouse cursor, a symbol of our own location in the virtual interface, which normally we have full control over, also shows a loss of self define and weakness. It raises the question of what will be the meaning to give up our control over ourselves? Either willingly or unwillingly.

bottom of page