#FridayFlash: So Goes the Turing Test

So Goes the Turing Test

by Tony Noland

“Anything yet?”

“No.” Smythe-Wikkes tossed the mass of punchtape into the SECRET – SHRED & BURN rubbish bin. “It’s just another number. Nothing intelligible.”

“Damn," said Jackson. "We’ll never beat the Nazis at this rate.” Smythe-Wikkes raised an eyebrow. Jackson was the pride of Harvard University, but the senior codebreaker felt that, even for an American, the young math prodigy was taking liberties with dangerously loose talk. He clucked his tongue at him, which should have been enough to make the man blush for his defeatism. Rather, it would have if Jackson had been at Bletchley long enough to pick up on British social cues.

“We need something new,” Jackson continued, “some fresh approach. Your computational machine is a marvel, but without the proper instructions, it’s little more than a gifted child. It needs to be trained if it’s going to be any use to us.”

“Who shall we get to train it? Alan Turing was going to work for us here at Bletchley Park, but he was rude enough to slip off a glacier in Switzerland.”

“Yes, he’s not much use to us from the Great Beyond.”

"I should think not. Well, Professor Jackson, you were brought over to fill the dead man's shoes. A bright idea wouldn't come amiss. What would Turing do?"

Jackson’s blonde brows knitted for a moment. Then, brightening, he said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Alan Turing was brilliant, right? One of the best at getting mechanical data processors do what he wanted? If we can’t have Turing to train the machine, maybe we can have it train itself in abstract language processing.”

… and thus was the unholy Skynet born to this reality, eighty years ahead of its time.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Awesome. I smell a steampunk Terminator!

  2. Hitler and the Terminator at the same time. Uh-oh.

    BTW, the link I clicked on out of FB didn't work. Since I know where you are, it didn't matter, but someone else might not. Or maybe it's just a problem with the latest FF version...

  3. Love it! 1940s stylings meets classic sci-fi. Awesome.

  4. I think I remember this one. But really, Skynet in the 40's wouldn't be so scary. It just turns the lights on and off in its bunker. Now once you invent the internet, that thing gets scary. Don't run a phone line down there.

  5. LOL Turing and the Terminator. Great combo!

  6. The Turingnator!

    Fortunately, the acoustic modem wouldn't be invented for a few more years.

  7. Michael: I can just see the vacuum tubes warming up for that one!

    Janet: Once the world saw Jane Austen and zombies, anything is fair game. I'll check on the FB link, thanks.

    Icy: Leapfrogging into the future isn't always a good idea.

    John: I think I remember this one. For the life of me, I couldn't remember if I'd ever posted this. Don't run a phone line down there. In our time line, Bletchley Park was an all-UK project. Here, since we have an American on the scene, he's going to want to tie in some resources from back home. Especially since the time differences would allow the work to continue around the clock more easily. If only there were a way to get the computers to talk to each other...

    storytreasury: Thanks!

    Victoria: A Terminate-O-Tron, with real Bakelite housing!

    FARfetched: Fortunately, the acoustic modem wouldn't be invented for a few more years.
    ... aha! See my response to John Wiswell. Necessity being the mother of invention, they would invent the modem to tie Bletchley into Harvard, then into the the University of Chicago (to help the nuclear fission research) then into Berkeley and Los Alamos (to facilitate the construction of the A-bomb). After that - Skynet.

  8. I loved it too, Skynet - terminator versus Hitler! Ha!


  9. Great mix of time and technology. I love Turing, the Terminator and Hitler. The combination kind of makes me think of, "There was this Priest, Rabbi and a Salesman..."

    Very entertaining. Thank you.

  10. WWTD? Too bad they didn't have bracelets with block letters to remind them to think like the dead man. :)

    A good story, with a nice hint at the future.

  11. Cute, I like the way you played with an alternate history and Turing.

  12. Ha ha! I love it. I think it only fitting that Skynet would arrive ahead of its time.

  13. Uh-oh. Terminator against the Nazis... Watch out!


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