What does the “I'm not a robot” box actually test?

You know the box “I'm not a robot” that you have to click to prove you are a human user rather than a bot? How come robots can't flag a “simple” box despite having reached a level of intelligence and agility in movement never achieved before? I'm actually perfectly capable of clicking on the box, but the “I'm not a robot” test is more complex than it might seem at first glance.

In fact, behind the “I am not a robot” box lies the reCAPTCHA technologyWhere CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (i.e. “fully automated public Turing test to distinguish computers and humans”). Even if the Turing test appears to many to be an outdated concept, this specific test analyzes (using a specific algorithm) the behavior that the user undertakes before and after clicking the box itself, thus managing to distinguish whether a human being or a bot is behind these actions.

Among the various behaviors analyzed there are in fact: movements made with the mousethe actions done immediately after the clickthe pages visited and so on. In the most recent versions of the test, these analyzes are carried out even without the need to flag a box. Since robots usually perform rather orderly and mechanical movements, for example along straight lines – unlike us humans, who move the mouse pointer irregularly and randomly – the reCAPTCHA system algorithm can distinguish a human quite easily by a robot.

It is worth pointing out, however, that things could change in the future, as artificial intelligence could be able to perfectly simulate human behavior to pass the most updated versions of the reCAPCTHA test. This is, at least, what some IT experts have said, including the Peter Bentley of University College London, who said it clearly in an article published on BBC Science Focus Magazine.