July 31st, 2006

Another day, another revealing passage from Dibbell’s Play Money, this time about the origins of the infamous Turing Test (pg. 100):

“Designed by Alan Turing in 1950, it was a variation on “The Imitation Game,” a party amusement in which a man and a woman, hidden in separate rooms, take written questions from the other guests and send typewritten answers back, each competing to convince the others that he, or she, is the woman.  In Turing’s reworking, a computer programmed for conversation replaces the man, and the computer when if its answers either convince the questioners of its femininity… [or] convince them that it’s human at all.”

Interesting, isn’t it, in light of all the talk we’ve done about imitating femininity, that therein lies the origin of imitating life itself.  And that, when we strive to pass the Turing Test, in a way we’re still trying to pass that original test of constructed womanhood.

Remember: read it for yourself.

Tags: Blog

9 Responses to “Simulated Femininity, Simulated Humanity”

  1. FerrousBuller Says:

    One presumes it’s easier for a woman to pretend to be a man than it is for a man to pretend to be a woman, thus explaining why the test is “guess who’s the girl”…hey, it’s like that Mirror Universe Star Trek episode! :-)

  2. Bonnie Says:

    Why again is it easier for a woman to pretend to be a man than a man to pretend to be a woman?

  3. Coldstone Says:

    Personally I find it hard to role-reverse, I wish I could, because I really can’t rpg with an opposite gender character (tried disasterously).

    I think its interesting that it was to guess the woman. Seem like there are several possiblities here:

    1. The game was ahead of its time and trying to get men to imagine life as a woman.

    2. Its poking fun at the stereotypes by exposing the audiances own stereotypes.

    3. Its a conformity issue making the woman conform to stereotypes or risk embarresment as being un-womanly if she loses.

    4. Its a challenge to the mans masculinity, which can later be used to ridicule him as un-manly if he loses.

    It probably depends on the group you are playing with, but I can see some people using the game to try and put down others. Or am I becoming too cynical (I blame TV of course).

  4. FerrousBuller Says:

    Near the end of the Mirror Universe episode of TOS, Spock comments that it is easier for civilized people to pretend to be barbarians than it is for barbarians to pretend to be civilized people. Thus, it was easy for him to figure out that “barbaric” Kirk & co weren’t the real McCoys.

    From this premise, you may draw your own conclusions as to why I said it’s easier for women to pretend to be men than vice versa… :-)

  5. Coldstone Says:

    Putting stuff on a pedestal is always dangerous, cause sooner or later its gonna crash on the floor. Besides we all know that Old Trek is lame ;) I bet there is a pertinant Picard quote out there somewhere.

  6. Aaron Delwiche Says:

    Hey Bonnie — Not sure if you’ve seen this, but Amy Bruckman and her colleagues at Georgia Tech have created a Turing Game based on this concept.

    In this on-line game, “a panel of users all pretend to be a member of some group, such as women. Some of the users, who are women, are trying to prove that fact to their audience. Others are men, trying to masquerade as women. An audience of both genders tries to discover whom the imposters are, by asking questions and analyzing the panel members’ answers.”

  7. Bonnie Says:

    From this premise, you may draw your own conclusions as to why I said it's easier for women to pretend to be men than vice versa.
    Grumble, grumble. You trying to pick a fight? :-)

    Besides we all know that Old Trek is lame.
    God bless your soul. And speaking of shows I used to love when I was nine (I was a huge elementary school trekky [sp?]), Scott and I recently got the first there episodes of Highlander from Netflx–so sad :-(. Then again, what exactly was I expecting?

    Amy Bruckman and her colleagues at Georgia Tech have created a Turing Game based on this concept.
    Awesome. I’m off to check it out as we speak!

  8. FerrousBuller Says:

    “You trying to pick a fight?”

    With you? Heaven forbid!

    Girls scare me too much.

    “Besides we all know that Old Trek is lame”

    Of course old-school Trek is lame! Everything old-school is lame: games, comics, TV shows, you name it. That’s what makes it old-school; and that’s why old-school is endearing.

  9. Iliana Says:

    Long this is not met.

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