Saturday, December 04, 2010

How To Beat A Bot (By Being Human)

So, I am sitting at my computer minding my own business when a Facebook Chat window pops up and asks,

 "around? jeffrey, got a second??"  

It is from "Michael N.," an old high school acquaintance who, like so many others, I have befriended on Facebook but haven't really engaged with save for a few mass messages from other old High School friends that we were both copied on.  We are friends by Facebook standards and we certainly hung out in the same crowd on occasion "back in the day," but (no disrespect to Mike) we were not close friends.  That's why I was surprised to see a chat message from him...  So I answered,

"Sure. I am here.  How are you?

And then things got, in my opinion, a little bit weird.  No, "hey, how've you been?" or "whatever happened to so and so...?"  Instead, Michael said,

"ok cool, I know this is random, but i want you to try something real quick"

First of all, I know this is chat and Facebook and the age of instant messaging, but I'd like to think that a fellow adult who shared the same quality New York City Public High School education that I had would be a cut above using limited punctuation and all lower case letters when typing anything. I continued, tentatively...

"ok..."

And then "Michael" asked me to take some crazy IQ test.  An IQ test?  A guy I haven't seen or spoken to in decades out of the blue sends me a link to take an online IQ test?  WTF?  I didn't have to be a CSI to know that something was amiss.  I've been fooled before, but I won't get fooled again! (Yeah, all this High School talk brings back memories of THE WHO...).  So, clever me asks,

"How do I know this is you and not a bot?"

And of course I get a reply that has no relationship whatsoever to the question I just asked.  In my mind I hit Bot Bingo... no way this was really Michael!  And just to be sure, I go ahead and play the human card.  I want him to prove he's the guy I went to Forest Hills High with...

"Tell me something personal so I know it is really you..."

Silence.  No answer.  The chat is over.  Score: Human 1, Bot 0.  Chalk one up for the sentient beings!  I beat the bot!

What do you do when faced with an apparent bot? Do you try to beat it at its own game by asking questions only a human could answer?  Please share your bot beating techniques in the comments.

(P.S. I sent the real Michael N. a message that his FB account may have been hacked...  No reply so far.  He probably thinks the note from me is spam!)



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