Are you a robot? If you are, it is pointless saying yes when that answer is going to block you

You need to get into a website, they ask you if you are a robot. That very question indicates they expect the robot to answer. Now if you are a robot with a wicked bent of mind and you do not mind lying, cheating, stealing (and being occasionally tempted to swipe a fluffy white cotton dressing gown from a hotel room) and breaking robot codes of conduct you say no. Pointless saying yes, I am a robot when that answer is going to block you. So, you have conned the system though no one has ever explained this violent hostility to robots or what dramatic event happens if one of them sneaks past this first barricade.

To catch the renegade robot the wily online programmers have then devised a six to eight square grid in which you have to mark off the ones that have a window in them or a car or trees. Now, one would imagine that a robot would have no fears in going whirr whirr spot the trees and eureka, got them all. Us frail humans, on the other hand, tremble with trepidation, is that a tree, is it, soaked in liquid guilt that we might be caught out. And then like the school exams where we turned over the question paper and it said answer five of ten questions and the mind went blank and we assumed we didn’t know any, the same sort of suspense accompanies the search for trees. What if we fail? Omigoodness I have failed, it was a tree, not a printing smudge or a hedge.

Never mind that next ghastly exercise of pretzel like letters twisted into nothingness because the robot, well ahead of the game now, has to face the Machiavellian prince of the internet, the OTP. When I had just joined journalism I was asked by Uma da Cunha what my USP was. I had no clue what the acronym stood for and the OTP shared a similar veil of ignorance.

Now, I live in perpetual fear of the One Time Password. It is panic stations when those six blank spaces come up, search desperately for phone, twiddle the wrong buttons, hear that buzz, up come the six figures aaah, it is 435697 so you feverishly put in the number 435976, and it tells you what an addlepated twit you are and now you are into panic because the clock is counting down, which is nothing compared to the funk of the OTP not coming and you staring at the messages list and nothing is appearing and now you feel you have let the side down. Traitor.

And you wonder how the robot is doing.



This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.


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