Posted by: Dr Churchill | July 29, 2013

Turing Test – Artificial Intelligence – Alan Turing Pardon – Social Memento Mori

Wittgenstein’s students were not all of the same ilk.

Nor were all his Cambridge learners and readers alike. Most of his students were clear eyed scientists who fathomed great Reasoning and Logical technologies. Still some were going to be Philosophers, Logicians, or Mathematicians… yet the vast majority were pure physical scientists.

Still some of them transcended the Cambridge mold and became a bit of both. Free Spirits is what we call them today and there are few as able to bridge the chasm as Alan Turing who really lived on the bridge. You see, the bridge over Cam is what defines Cambridge University above all else, and being on the bridge is genius for observation and romance but you can’t built your home there.

But You can’t live your Life on the bridge. Wittgenstein was clear on this. Yet this bit of knowledge was something Alan Turing himself never really internalized.

So much like the rest of the Cambridge class; he were to venture far afield into Languages of programming artificial intelligence machines, and left the Artifice of our Life’s pretentious Society unobserved, and consequently unheeded. To his peril though, this was not an Intelligent choice… albeit a Rational One. So Alan failed his own test. The famous Turing test of artificial Intelligence.

Yet today we hear that the legendary computer scientist and codebreaker may finally get a posthumous pardon – from a conservative Tory government no less.

A pardon for what the Society of his day did when they trampled his liberty and shredded his human rights and drove him to a Logical Conclusion. A logical conclusion, that included a cyanide laced apple for dinner and a self chosen exit stage left.

Alan’s early grave is now just dust and the Government’s belated Pardon is just shite and Modern day confessional and clamouring posturing…. ready fodder to be exploited and utilised for electoral favour — like throwing cheap fodder to the sheeple.

And it might mean something in this Age of renewed acceptance of Elton John and his partner for reasons other than singing, and acceptance of all things Gay…

Yet to the few of us who see things clearly — the Intelligent Digerati, the Reasoning Philosophers, the Mathematicians, the Logicians, the Computer Scientists and all assorted Intelligent Cybernetics creatures at Cambridge — this Pardon, means exactly nothing.

Because today’s computer science has taken on a somewhat less humanistic sensibility due to us consistently failing the Turing test. Failing wholesale as a Society. Failing as a government. Failing as a ‘People’ — FAILING. And you know — this is unfortunate…

I have seen the Turing test taught many times, in software schools, in AI classes, in philosophy, in Robotics or computer science classes, and it’s always the same. The circumstances of Turing’s life at the time of his creation are never brought into view. he Man is never brought into the narrative of the Test, or into the Teaching of the Turing doctrine. Hell the man is not even spoken about as a nerdy, differently polarized sexually being. Alan is not allowed into the Class. Period. And if this is not a dehumanizing approach of teaching about the Man’s mental output – never speaking about the Man — this is also what the Universities consider their own Teaching Dogma. Teach the problem and the solution, but forget the way the Man invented the Solution and elucidated the problem.

That’s no way to learn. Because for me Problem Solving in education is all there is. Still in the best of schools, Harvard, MIT and Stanford included, all that’s required of when they speak of the Computer Science Pioneer’s most elegant work and elegiac choice of Intelligence and Humanity bar, is a description of the problem….

Alan’s test, first published in 1950, was Turing’s thought experiment in which he asks whether we would, so to speak, deny personhood to a computer that could fool us into thinking it was a person in the course of a regular conversation. Yet we forget that Turing wrote of this idea during a troubled period of his life, just as he himself was being denied simple Human Rights of ‘Personhood’ and was furthermore, being persecuted by an overzealous Conservative government of the United Kingdom. Instead of facing a grateful nation, that he had helped triumph over Hitler’s gray armies of hate — the creeping social fascism, the ideology most based on denying the humanity of others — our ‘free’ society denied Alan’s humanity as well and proscribed him to death.

In my mind — Turing’s notion of the test has been an indictment of how we judge each other’s humanity. A rather intelligent and wry humour is what brings this about. But it takes intelligence to see how a Man of great and pervasive genius can send us a Corrosive lesson to clean the rust and grime from our collective intellect and legal artifice. And this man had to design his lesson to be observed over many generations lest our communal fount of intelligence bloom. This is a test to last the passage of time and to bring virtuous fruit for all concerned.

What a Teacher…
Alan Turing’ vaunted Artificial Intelligence test is a Wittgensteinian question hidden inside a Socratic Dialectic and seemingly a daily conversational question for the untrained mind.
Alan’s test is TRULY AN INTELLIGENCE GAME of pawns. Pawnees playing through the facets of a trillion various outputs and in vast numbers of ways, the question can be answered. And each answer revealing more about the respondent than any other response to the trivia of daily learning at the World’s Best Schools.

A daring and insightful question arising from the pure mind of the Questor. A Questor that has been ravaged from society’s puritanical fascist minds. And yet the Questor frames the question in such a way — that has been found unassailable in it’s humanity. Humanity stemming from the same Intellectual Might of the pure minds of the ages.

A Mighty Question.

A question that leads us to Ethics and Morality where we to believe that what has been a comforting fantasy, an escape into an abstract form of existence, where no one is different, no one is inhuman, no one is a stranger, or no one is gay or straight, but only pure mind — has to be one such question. And yet such notions come in sharp conflict with a pedantic small minded society and the rules governing the sheeple.

Turing’s test is such a Divine Question. An axiomatic problem solving question that cleans the head as you think about it. A test designed to benefit Society as a whole. A question that inevitably leads to fruitful and revealing if not moralizing conversation. A Conversation that Alan invited us to have. A Conversation that didn’t happen during his time because he didn’t live long enough to say all he probably would have to say if we were to delve into this thinking.

Yet it is a Conversation we should have today. And in that sense and only in that sense the talk about a Pardon for Turing is useful today. Because we need to have this conversation urgently and openly. Why the fuck is it anybody’s business, what piston goes into what slot, when people couple together? And whose slot and whose piston is fitted into each other? Who chooses the partners? And who cares for Free Will? Who makes the consent rules? Is adulthood about such choices as well or is the church in the bedroom too? Fuck all of this nonsense. And why do we need rules to couple?

It’s perhaps telling and insightful that in a footnote to Alan Turing’s writing of the Artificial Intelligence Test — he speculates that even if a computer became a “person” according to empirical criteria, [IE Society] both it and a natural human would still derive personhood from a source beyond physics… From the Divine…

That person being God…

And I ask you: ”What kind of personhood have we given that Being? That is my question….”

And whatever the test meant to Turing other than poling Society with an unanswerable question, I don’t know. And to tell the truth, I can hardly detect any malice in this lesson. Because he had no hatred, nor vengeance, nor any outward aggression, in this way towards anyone chasing him. And to me — being seriously hot-blooded — this is remarkable. I can hardly imagine being in similar circumstances without lashing out at my persecutors — even if it’s just to point out their errors and the folly of their ways. And yet this is Turing’s legacy. A master of his domain both intellectually and physically. A Master in all respects and a Great teacher, because is anything all that the Great Thinkers have taught is is to seek difficult questions to answer. seek to scale the impossible peaks. Because it’s nobody’s business who sleeps with whom but it is everybody’s business that fascism and the denial of personhood should not creep into society.

And that is the real answer to the question Alan asked a half century earlier.

That is my remit and any pardon coming so late in the game is nothing but BS and not as .

Because what can do we do with the knowledge that people not all that different from ourselves have behaved with astounding stupidity and cruelty, over and over again? People behaving like blood thirsty animals seeking blood sport and entertainment of people being torn apart in our own midst. People been ravaged in the arena of the docket, through the wild red on the tooth legal animalistic sommnumabbulian codes — all in our own ‘enlightened’ and libertarian societies, in the recent past and even today. Because today we have the question of Snowden and the NSA leaks of justice gone wrong again… and the dogs whistling their masters. And whose AI test of Liberty and the Fourth Amendment will we protect on this side of the pond? whose personhood will we see as vital to protect from illegal search and seizure and who is to tell you that if a Conservative puritanical government interlops into your bedroom in the future [pendulums have a habit of swinging] will not prosecute you for what piston goes into whose slot and why?

This is the kind of question that haunts me when I think of Alan Turing and his test’s relevance today…

For those who don’t know, Turing was the most essential mathematician leading to the invention of computers and the birth of my discipline, computer science. I couldn’t owe him more. He was also one of the greatest war heroes we have known, for he applied computer science in its birthing hour to break Enigma, a notorious Nazi code, and is generally thought to have shortened the course of the second world war by perhaps two years. He might have saved millions of lives, even nations.

We’re not done. In the years before his death in 1954, Turing made a huge contribution to philosophy and culture by articulating the underpinnings of artificial intelligence, including what has come to be known as the famous “Turing test” thought experiment. And yet he did all that with a good degree of sophistication – including a healthy dose of humour and rational self-doubt – that AI scientists and Computer nerds, never achieve today.

Illegal state of being…

If only this Master Achievement list could suffice as a summary of a great life, — we must also remember how Turing died. He was gay at a time when that was an illegal state of being. He was prosecuted after the war and subjected to “chemical castration”. He lost all his ‘Joie de Vivre’ and he went on and killed himself, eating an apple laced with cyanide, at age 41.

End credits rolling? No — never, because we will never know what further gifts he could have given the world, nor do we know the repercussions of his present gifts into our thinking. Hell we haven’t yet been able to answer his question…

Now, after decades of murmurs and false starts, it appears the UK government will produce a posthumous Pardon for the Man Alan Turing really was. A pardon for a giant.

How can we think about this?

I personally don’t think he needs this. Maybe we need it — but not him. He don’t need us to take away from his personal struggle by removing our own culpability from the mix. We shouldn’t chisel away at reality by removing the nasty bits, and by revisiting history. Let it be. Let’s always know how wrongheaded we can be at times. There is a valid social education means to this story…
Because we have a self serving reason to not bother revisiting cases like that and whitewashing the past. No matter what the social prerogative might be to do this today. Apologies, YES. Excuses and posthumous Pardons — please that’s major Bollocks.

We make mistakes. Grave and intolerable mistakes. Mistakes that make us Nazis and criminals. We still do… How will Society learn of it’s own wrongdoings if we forget that?

It isn’t easy. Of course the prosecution of Turing was an abomination. But as present-day observers, are we stroking ourselves on the back a little too readily by suggesting we now have the perspicuity from which to declare a pardon to this one brilliant man? What about the 50,000 other men in the UK convicted in the same way? And similarly punished. Chemical castration anyone? Have you neutered your pet? It;s the same kind of thing. Only worse because it affect the brain and the mind like lobotomy. Nasty business if you are at the tail end of the poke…

And what about the Million Dollar question: Do you have to be one of the highest-performing people of the century to merit a pardon under an immoral law that has been repudiated?

The very idea of a pardon suggests that the government speaks from a moral high ground and that the prosecution might have been inadvertently based on false evidence or some other bloodless mistake. There is a degree of implicit misrepresentation, though it is never easy for a government to own up to its own failings.
The notion of pardon sends a confused message. Shouldn’t there be an apology to all those convicted through hateful, dehumanizing, and discriminatory laws? Shouldn’t a Pardon and an Apology, be directed to all of their individual and collective memories and their descendants?

Or this collective amnesia of society and government is really what Artificial Intelligence is all about? A crowdsourced intelligence, a machine made artifice, guided by senseless codified laws that cannot distinguish the Humanity of the individual. A machine made intelligence that simply cannot spot and differentiate a PERSON from the generic acceptable mold and seeks to discard those ‘ERRORS’ the bugs, the glitches, the different code spellers.

That Society is not even passing the Test of Artificial Intelligence let alone Humanity.

To get more of a sense of Turing, the person, the colourful nerd, the genius, the unkept Doctor, the celebrated father of Victorious Intelligence of Enigma and the Code Breakers over the Brute Force of Nazis, the prosecuted homosexual, the gay pro to-activist, all those personas are not Artifices but a MAN. A simply divinely intelligent Man that a Gray Society and a Petit Bourgeois government — lacking grace and gratitude — sent to the Gallows.



In pure mathematics, it is commonly recognised that while the maths itself is abstract, the way we understand it is cultural, and therefore it is relevant to know the human stories behind mathematical advances. We benefit from knowing about Alan Turing’s intelligent yet eccentric and contested life, because it informs our appreciation of his accomplishments.

Understanding a little about him helps us enter into his mindset and trace his steps.

And maybe see the Logic behind the Man.

On this point — I don’t really care what you think, because the Man has earned my RESPECT

And is even more useful today to our society because he reminds each and everyone of us of the shifting Time and Fortunes.

Much like the whispering slave or an AI automaton coming softly into our ears at our times of triumph and moments of glory to remind us of the transiency and fleeting nature of our existence by saying the words: Memento Mori — Memento Mori — Memento Mori…

In my words this is a secret message from Alan’s storehouse of indelible humour — to not take anything too seriously in this Life

Because there is always a blue apple waiting in the background…

Either that or a robot to satiate your hunger when things go awry.

Rational choices all of them.

Logic trumps reason…

Or is it the Opposite?

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