POEM: The Turing Test

Let us propose a game.

A man and a woman, call them A and B, go out of the room.

A third party, man or woman, call them C, proposes questions 

transmitted in writing. 

The purpose of the questions: To determine which party, 

A or B, is the man, and which party, B or A, is the woman.

A and B shall both attempt to deceive C

by giving answers appropriate to the opposite sex.

Now, let us consider this question:

Is a man who loves other men

a man or a woman?

 

Let us propose a variation. 

Here is a computing machine, call it A.

Here is a human person, call them B.

A third party, call them C, proposes questions 

transmitted in writing.

The purpose of the questions: To determine which party, 

A or B, is the computer, and which party, B or A, is the human being.

Can a computing machine convince a human being 

that it also is a human being?

Now, let us consider this question:

Is a man who loves other men 

a human being?

 

Here is a man, a person, a human being. 

He is very good with computers.

He served his country in the war. 

He fell in love with a man 

that he met in front of the cinema.

They committed acts of gross indecency.

Is a man who loves other men 

a man or a woman? Is he 

a hero or a traitor? Is he 

a human being or an object of gross indecency?

Was his death a suicide or an accident? 

This is the Turing test.

(Alan Turing died on this date in 1954, having served his country during World War Two and then been branded a criminal by that same country because he was homosexual.)

POEM: The apple (for Alan Turing)

The apple lies in your hand, round and sweet. It is all

the forbidden fruit that you have ever tasted: The loves,

the pleasures, the stolen joys. There is no hiding from

the one who walks in the garden in the cool of the evening.

There is no offering you can make to your god, your

country, to atone for what you are.

 

The apple lies in your hand, the bitter apple of

self-knowledge. In another time, another place,

it might be the apple of Iduna, whose fruit gives

life to the gods. It might be an apple from

the Hesperides, the gift of Hera to Zeus, or

that apple which Eris tossed, designated for

the fairest. You have known your fairest and

lost him. You have lost all the immortality

in your veins. It might be the apple that was

given to True Thomas, or was that bread

and wine? He lay with the Faerie Queen and

gained the gift of prophecy. You have taken

the fruit unbidden and it will give you only death.

 

The apple lies in your hand, heavy as all your

memories. With a last gesture of defiance,

you put it to your teeth and bite.

 

(For Alan Turing, computer scientist, homosexual, who died on this day in 1954, possibly of suicide. His codebreaking skills helped the Allies win World War II; after the war, he was arrested and chemically castrated for being a homosexual. Written in 2015.)