One of mathematician Alan Turing’s most famous achievements — the one most people associate with his name, although a recent movie did much to change that — was his formulation of a test for artificial intelligence.
Passing the Turing Test has become pop-culture shorthand for a machine passing the test to prove it’s self-aware. Another recent film, Ex Machina, did a good job of examining the Turing Test’s flaws and proposing a clever modification to the rules.
Most people get the basic idea that the Turing Test involves human judges interviewing a hidden subject and trying to guess if they’re talking to a human being or a very advanced machine simulating human discourse. In fact, Turing’s original proposal began by having a judge communicate with two hidden human subjects, a man and a woman, with the latter encouraged to do everything possible to trick the judge into thinking she was a man. Once his readers understood how this “imitation game” would be played, he invited them to imagine replacing the contestants with a human (of either sex) and a machine, and asking the judge to divine which was the human.
Turing thought computers would advance to the point where they could win the imitation game most of the time by the year 2000, and he got that pretty much right. What he couldn’t have predicted was that political correctness would strip away so much of human identity, and make communication so awkward, that the millennial generation of humans would begin failing his test.
It is very difficult to tell the difference between a Social Justice Warrior and a bot program based solely on their discourse. It would be a simple matter to write a program that searches the Internet for certain keywords and generates realistic SJW rants.
Indeed, online mobs often use tools such as bot programs, fake social media accounts, and spam email generators to inflate their numbers and make themselves look like a far more formidable presence than the actual number of humans involved in the movement would suggest. Even many of the humans involved in these mob actions are essentially behaving as bots — mindlessly re-Tweeting rants and hyperlinks, instantly working themselves into a fury against people they don’t know, over issues they don’t understand.
The volunteer enforcers of political correctness are looking for the quick shot of euphoria that comes from adopting a righteous, powerful identity. A great deal of their discourse amounts to “signalling” each other — taking positions on issues they don’t fully comprehend, for the purpose of displaying their own virtue. Politicized science relies on hordes of followers who could not pass the most elementary test on the subject at hand, but believe they can signal intelligence and virtue by passionately advocating certain positions, while intimidating dissenters into silence by accusing them of being “anti-science.”
Computer programs can do this sort of thing very easily. As mentioned above, it’s not difficult to program them with keywords to search for and a selection of canned responses to pump out. Frankly, some bots would pass the Turing test more easily than young people whose brains have been sandblasted into conformity with political correctness. Human victims of such indoctrination often find articulate responses require too much effort, so they sputter out a mixture of profanity and childish Internet slang, drop in a link to something they approve of, and congratulate themselves for delivering a sick burn. Bots, on the other hand, will never tire of issuing lengthy responses carefully written in advance.
Try to imagine a Turing test involving a campus activist and a computer, which the judge kicks off by declaring that Bruce Jenner is still a man. A savvy judge would spot the human by looking for the responses that least resemble human speech.
This is not a coincidence, because the Turing Test is all about identity, and identity is crucial to human interaction.
Later theorists built upon Turing’s ideas by noting that identity isn’t the same thing as self-awareness, so a computer that does an incredibly good job of winning the imitation game hasn’t really demonstrated that it possesses a living mind — it’s merely fooled a human judge into granting it human identity, by communicating extremely well. In other words, sophisticated communication confers identity. We make certain assumptions about an unseen correspondent by considering what they say, how they say it, and what they leave unsaid.
Politically correct ideology is all about stripping away identity. It’s a jihad against everything that makes us human, based on the extremely dangerous collectivist idea that identity is infinitely malleable — not an inherent truth, but rather a series of roles assigned by external forces. Race, sex, family, and everything else that defines us as individuals are merely constructs imposed by society, subject to revision.
For example, dear reader, you might possess female genitalia, but that doesn’t make you a “woman,” unless you choose to be one. You supposedly have several dozen other sexes to choose from. One of the current crusades of political correctness is to deface our language by introducing weird pronouns for all of them… and if you don’t use the right one, certain highly “progressive” jurisdictions will punish you with a $250,000 fine.
One of the greatest progressive evils is tricking young people into thinking the loss of identity is liberating. On the contrary, it is devastating, for individual freedom and responsibility are impossible to sustain without individuality. The loss of identity is an essential component of slavery, not liberty.
If identity can be changed, then it can be erased with sufficient compulsive power… such as the threat of quarter-million-dollar fines for using the wrong word. Collectivists salivate at the prospect of erasing individual identity and teaching young people to think of themselves as blank slates, upon which the enlightened elite can scribble whatever identity they find useful.
Society loses its vibrant identity as communication becomes impossible. People terrorized by politically correct vigilante squads and government speech police are afraid to communicate. When we have difficulty expressing ourselves, we lose our individual identity, which is very useful to those who demand conformity. It’s no coincidence that our current generation is so poor at expressing itself through the written word. Inarticulate people are easier to manipulate.
Collectivists work very hard to erase our inherent human traits, creating a world as false and flimsy as an Internet chat room, where everyone is known by whatever name and avatar they choose. Much of what the Left passes off as “sex education” or “reproductive freedom” is intended to pry children away from their families at a very young age, thus removing an important marker of personal identity.
Few things fill the collectivist mind with more delight than the idea of sexually active 12-year-olds, provided with free contraception and no-questions-asked abortions, losing all sense of themselves as children with a mother, father, and family honor to think about. Each high-divorce generation of struggling single parents, who must marry the State to make ends meet, erases a bit more of the traditional human identity… as do barren generations who view marriage as an antique luxury, and children as a burden. People who have no sense of where they come from are more willing to go where they are told.
We have been bullied out of asserting or expressing our true identities, because there are so many “trigger words” we might stumble across, so many thought crimes we could be destroyed over. The culture of campus “microagressions” imposes villain and victim identities with mob muscle. Certain identities — white, male, cisgendered, privileged — are so undesirable that young people are encouraged to either cut them out with ideological scalpels, or forfeit their right to speak at all in certain situations.
Prolonged, uncomfortable silence is a good way to fail the Turing Test, as are awkward responses produced very slowly, because every word must be carefully screened for trigger and microaggression potential. The responses of people subdued by politically-correct ideology are, in every respect, what Alan Turing might have expected from a poorly-written program running on the hardware he didn’t live to see, because his own struggle with identity killed him.
Nothing in his work suggests he thought the solution to the shameful state of affairs in the ungrateful society that destroyed him involved stripping everyone else of their identity. Instead of evolving our machines until they can match the complexity of the human mind, collectivists have degraded human thought and speech so much that machines are already better conversationalists.