Turing

This is the opening weekend for the film The Imitation Game, a biopic thriller about computer scientist Alan Turing and how he and the Bletchley Park team cracked the German Enigma machine and helped the Allies win World War II.  I learned of Alan Turing my first year in college, back in 1992. We discussed the Turing Test in my Psychology 101 class, and I was riveted by his marvelous idea for testing the humanness of artificial intelligence in such an elegant way.  No machine has ever passed the Turing Test – at least, not by a huge margin.   For now, we’re all still the only human humans we know.  Whatever that means.  All I know is I can’t ever contemplate robots and the singularity and intelligence without thinking about Alan Turing.  And I can’t think about Alan Turing without feeling sad, and wondering what good is our humanity, our languages, our love, when we can be so cruel, even to heroes like him.  Anyway I wrote a poem about the man back in 1992.  It’s not Wordsworth, but I thought I’d post it here in memorium.  Fangirling out big time for Alan Turing!

Chess Game

I’m calling out to you, Alan Turing –

When does creation begin?

I wake to consciousness

from angry, muddled dreams.

Where is darkness

when we turn on the lights?

I’m talking to something

beyond the wall,

asking questions which have human answers,

breaking the code

in a race to win – what?

What is it we are beating

at its own game?

This is the clicking of a keyboard I hear

and not a voice.

This is the alien rattle of Morse

across the wires of wartime.

And is this you, Alan?

More machine than man,

or more human than many?

In the mystical night,

my brain is lightning,

humming, electric, alive.

I travel unconfined, unharnessed.

There is no touring that I cannot test.

There is no off, only rest.

I find you, Alan,

midst love and wakefulness,

lamenting our destructions.

 

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