On Friday, I was at work participating in a demo before an audience of a half-dozen decision makers. It's such an important demo that this was the dry-run for the demo, where we're taking notes to prepare for the Big Demo next week. I participate in demos regularly, so I'm familiar with all the problems that can arise... until this one.
My role was to be a guy who is showing how "normal" users interact with this new secure system, by signing on to the system using their personal email, and yet receiving all the security benefits of the internal email address used by more privileged users.
So I had created a Yahoo account for the sole purpose of this demo, and as my portion of the demo began, I received an email, and clicked on the "Authenticate" button. This directed me into a multi-factor-identification process using the Yahoo email address as the login credential for this other system. We had tested it previously, but for some reason, this time, I got stuck in an infinite loop with an anti-robot check that never ended. Take a look:
Click this image -->
While you continue to read, click on the image to start the GIF playing, and then just watch the torture that happened during the demo.
It goes on and on and on. And when you finally get to the end of the robot test, it says you failed and starts over.
Now as you watch, note that I take a little while to make sure the little creatures are exactly right side up. They're all correct. This is because by the time I made this GIF, I had already done this loop several times, thinking that maybe I had gotten one slightly wrong, so I was very careful this time, to make sure I got it right.
Nope, doesn't help.
Note, also, that you have to do this 15 times (!) before you even know if you're successful. What in tarnation kind of robot can do this 14 times successfully if a human can't get it right 15 times? Can we go back to the good old days of captchas that take 3 seconds max to perform?
Lastly, look at these creatures. What is this? These things are grotesque in that same way that happens when you see images designed to creep you out on purpose. Yuck. Can we go back to the good old days of captchas that were fun and interesting, not... creepy?
Thankfully, my part was only a small feature of the demo, and the person running the larger demo saw what was happening and said: "Okay, we'll stop that torture and move on to the next feature..." and took over control of the screen to show the other parts of the demo.
I sat there for the next thirty minutes, while the demo continued, fiddling with this anti-robot feature, trying to get this to work. It never did. So I made this GIF and now I've made this blog post, and you are hereby presented with the very serious question:
What happens when anti-robot becomes anti-human?