Imitation Games

Dec 30 2012 @ 1:00pm

In a review of the three books on Alan Turing, Michael Saler revisits Andrew Hodges’s 1983 biography, reissued in 2012. The Enigma explores "the centrality of Turing’s sexual identity to his thought and life": 

[H]e made a convincing case that Turing’s teenage crush on a fellow schoolboy, Christopher Morcom, was an important catalyst for his lifelong preoccupation with the relationship between brain and mind. Morcom’s unexpected death at the age of eighteen was a shattering blow to Turing, who began to reflect on whether his friend’s consciousness might survive after death or whether it was simply a result of complex material processes and expired when life did.  Hodges also linked the famous “Turing Test”, in which a computer attempts to pass as an intelligent human being, to Turing’s own dilemma as a gay man in a homophobic world. (Turing called his test the “imitation game”, and Hodges observed, “like any homosexual man, he was living an imitation game, not in the sense of conscious play acting, but by being accepted as a person that he was not”.)