These tests are called CAPTCHA, an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, and they’ve reached this sort of inscrutability plateau before. In the early 2000s, simple images of text were enough to stump most spambots. But a decade later, after Google had bought the program from Carnegie Mellon researchers and was using it to digitize Google Books, texts had to be increasingly warped and obscured to stay ahead of improving optical character recognition programs — programs which, in a roundabout way, all those humans solving CAPTCHAs were helping to improve.
Popular perception in the developed world remains that crypto is at best the domain of meme-conversant Wolf of Wall Street-like figures and at worst of drug dealers. Regulators and policymakers seem to partially share that belief, as crackdowns and strict regulations are announced across the globe from China to Turkey to the US. And yet in the Global South more and more people are choosing to use a technology designed to help them keep their wealth safe from confiscation, tyranny, or arbitrary restrictions. Whatever you think of crypto, its role as a force for good in some parts of the world should not be ignored.