Testing Turing: unsettling legacies

Speakers: Pip Thornton (Royal Holloway University of London, UK); Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, UK); Louise Amoore (University of Durham, UK)

Date: 2 October 2017

Time: 17:30 – 20:30

Venue: The Alan Turing Institute

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“One could say that a man can ‘inject’ an idea into the machine, and that it will respond to a certain extent and then drop into quiescence, like a piano string struck by a hammer” – Alan Turing, 1950.

The human-machine relationship is often described in terms of agency and quiescence. To many, data science might seem like a domain where humans ‘inject’ their ideas into computers, and where their reconstruction occurs (or fails) at the touch of a key. But is this really such an unproblematic one-way relationship? This event will question the perceived lack of reciprocity in this relationship by making the machine the starting point of critique: what humanity remains in the system? To answer this question, three talks on diverse case studies in literature, music and security will both test and make sense of what it is to be human in the age of big data and digital technology. Pip Thornton (Royal Holloway University of London, UK) will explore the political economy of digital language via Google AdWords; Pip Willcox (Oxford Bodleian Libraries, UK) will discuss the work of Ada Lovelace and algorithmic music composition; and Professor Louise Amoore (University of Durham, UK) will discuss the posthuman ethics of machine learning. The three talks will be introduced and chaired by Joe Shaw (The Alan Turing Institute, UK).