Misidentification’s Promise: the Turing Test in Weizenbaum, Powers, and Short

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Rhee, Jennifer. "Misidentification’s Promise: the Turing Test in Weizenbaum, Powers, and Short." POSTMODERN CULTURE: Journal of Interdisciplinary Thought on Contemporary Cultures "September 3, 2013 Posted by Webmaster under Volume 20, Number 3, May 2010". As of May 2021, essay available on line at link.[1]

Rhee's Abstract (lightly edited):

In popular culture and in artificial intelligence, the Turing test has been understood as a means to distinguish between human and machine. Through a discussion of Richard Powers’s Galatea 2.2: A Novel, Joseph Weizenbaum’s computer program therapist ELIZA, and Emily Short’s interactive fiction Galatea,[2] this essay argues that our continued fascination with the Turing test can also be understood through Turing’s introduction of the very possibility of misidentifying human for machine, and machine for human. This spectre of misidentification can open up potential recalibrations of human-machine interactivities, as well as the very categories of human and machine. Reading these literary and computational works alongside theoretical discussions of the Turing test, the essay attends to anthropomorphization as a productive metaphor in the Turing test. Anthropomorphization is a significant cultural force that shapes and undergirds multiple discursive spaces, operating varyingly therein to articulate conceptions of the human that are not reified and inviolable, but that continuously re-emerge through dynamic human-machine relations.

RDE, finishing, with thanks to Gerry Canavan, 15May21