{   }topia

An web experiment using series of CAPTCHA

Design research
Concept development
Art direction
Web design

4 weeks

I exhibited {  }TOPIA, an interactive web experiment for CAPTCHA series to provide space for alternative thoughts towards the ambivalent reactions towards emerging technology.


We are living in a complex world faced with constant technological change, and our reaction towards this change is ambivalent.

To unlock my curiosity towards AI safety and ethics, I had a desire to first look into people’s emotional, ethical, socio-economical response towards today’s technology.

With an aim to provoke thoughts and pose questions about future of humanity, I created {  }TOPIA, a playful CAPTCHA experiment and launched it in Dark Matter exhibition in Falmouth, UK.  

CAPTCHA* as a medium

Originally, CAPTCHA was developed to protect websites against bots and spam, but instead, I focused on its function distinguishing computers from humans by asking users to ‘prove your humanity’.

The most recent version developed by Google is called No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA which asks users to tick a box to prove you’re not a robot. It is much more time-efficient and user-friendly because all of our interaction with the ‘I’m not a robot’ box is monitored and helps to identify user’s humanity.

However, to be more interactive and give people more time and space to think and respond, I chose the initial form of CAPTCHA which asks people to decode the distorted image of letters that computers find difficult to read.


I wrote a short script of conversation between human user and

machine and made that into ten repetitive CAPTCHA dialogues to communicate with the audience by real time interaction as if it was a computer speaking to a human user.

I’m smarter than you.
I don’t think so.
I can beat you.
Do you fear me?
We are not evil.
I don’t want to destroy humanity.
I’m here because of you.
Don’t fear me too much.
Just bear in mind,
I’m smarter than you.

{   }TOPIA builds on the concept of speculative design which achieves its goals through the use of thought experiments. By this process of CAPTCHA thought experiment, the reaction of visitors could be shown somehow uncomfortable, humorous or something else.

The end goal was to instill curiosity and to build a public space for activating thoughts about machine intelligence and its impact on future humanity.

Try to read out loud the CAPTCHAs featured in {   }TOPIA. Prove you’re a human and see how you feel.