Recently, before I could leave a comment on a blog post, I was asked to confirm that I was not a robot—by a robot! Like he could tell. Dutifully, I checked the little box next to “I’m not a robot,” and after thinking about it for a few seconds, the robot pronounced me fully human—or, at least not a machine.
A few days later, I was reminded of this online interaction while watching the Imitation Game, the cinematic account of the life of mathematician Alan Turing. In the film, Turing, who cracked the Nazi Enigma Code during World War II with an early version of the supercomputer, is interrogated by a police officer after his own home was broken into. Police suspect he is hiding something, that he is a Soviet spy or worse.
After Turing tells his story, he invites the officer to play a “round” of the Imitation Game. “You get to judge,” Turing says, “What am I? Am I a machine? Am I a person? Am I a criminal? Am I a war hero?”
I’m certainly no war hero. Nor a criminal. But the question of whether I am a machine or a person seems to be up for debate, and not just by robots. As the end of the year approached, I noticed that my work, my writing, even my household chores, had taken on a humanless quality. “MUST COMPLETE TASK,” I repeated, over and over. Occasionally I froze up for no apparent reason. Most of the time I felt like my batteries were a little low.CONTINUE READING @TWEETSPEAK POETRY