So Goes the Turing Test
by Tony Noland
“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.
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