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Have you ever tried to fill out a form online? Have you ever succeeded? I haven’t. And it is all because of Luis von Ahn. Who is he? He is the leader of The Resistance; a modern day John Connor. He created the captcha: Supposedly our last line of defense against The Machines. The Machines have been trying to fill out forms and pay our bills online since the dawn of the internet. Something apparently had to be done to stop them. Thankfully, Luis von Ahn discovered that The Machines are incapable of reading squiggly words that are distorted with effects from Microsoft Paint and Photo Booth: The captcha was born; but our battle with it is just beginning.

Are you human? This is a question I see above captchas; but for some reason a simple yes or no answer isn’t enough. We have to prove we’re human by unearthing the indecipherable text hidden beneath blotches of paint and layers of random slashes. Does anyone know if you are supposed to enter punctuation in a captcha? I’ve seen semicolons, apostrophes, and even weird hieroglyphics in them before, but have never known what to do. Or how about spaces? Do we put a space between the “words?” I use quotation marks because they aren’t even real words. My vocabulary far exceeds the typical monoglot but I don’t ever recall seeing words with numbers in the middle of them. It’s like trying to decode a vanity plate without your contacts in, while bouncing down a cobblestone alleyway, in a blizzard, while texting and wearing an eyepatch. Good luck.

This morning, after multiple failed attempts to penetrate von Ahn’s latest Robo-Defense-System (RDS), one in which he seemed to increase the difficulty of the puzzle after each incorrect guess, I saw the button that looked like a speaker. Finally, an easier way to gain access into the Chamber of Secrets! However, when I clicked the button, the sound that emitted from my speakers resembled nothing that I had ever heard before. It was like Microsoft Sam was trying to speak in parseltongue while gargling polyjuice potion. It sounded like a fusion of every foreign language that I’ve ever taken. It began with the throaty “CH” sound that you hear at the beginning of many Hebrew words, then jarringly transitioned into a Latin midsection with what I can only assume demanded some sort of an “AE” combo-letter before finally ending with a brutal German sounding suffix which left me feeling like the captcha was just plain angry with me. I got on skype and played the sound for my friend, Sai R. Gunturi, 2003 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion, to see if he could be of any assistance, but all his years of staying indoors and studying the dictionary provided no insight into the complex Robo-Roots that these words used. He had nothing.

In frustration, I slammed my laptop shut. I gave up. The defenses were far too strong. I’m sorry that my student loan payment is four days late but it’s not my fault. I’ll be back, and The Resistance will be defeated.

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