Well, no, this not a review of the movie, nor is it a discussion on how accurate the movie was (which is very little by the way, the movie is almost a Bollywood masala story as compared to the actual events, however much one argues that sometimes facts are stranger than fiction!). My musings are on a totally different thing, the game that Turing mentions in the movie; the ‘Imitation Game’ nowadays known as the ‘Turing Test’. The test is devised for a futuristic world where artificial intelligence has developed to an extent that its impossible to distinguish a human from a machine, just by their outward appearance. So a judge, asks a series of questions to determine if the person in front of him/her is actually human or a machine, then based on the answers, the judge gets to decide.
Now I come to the part where I disagree. I do not know how far into the future the game would actually be of any use. But if I assume that we have Androids living among us now, like all the dystopic sci-fi movies, I think its going to be very difficult to distinguish between a human and a machine just by a series of questions. We will need much more than that, we might actually need to cut up the being in half and tangibly see the vital organs to believe it! Aren’t we all machines having a defined set of rules to live by? We are supposed to do this, live like that, behave in a certain way or talk in a proper way, everything is supposed to be in order. We are no different from the pre-programmed machines, very much like the people who imprisoned Galileo for stating that the earth was not the center of the universe. We feel so secure and so comfortable in our ways and following a certain way of life that not only do we crave constancy, we even prosecute the people who think or behave differently. We see examples of that everyday and everywhere, journalists who write something bold get executed, socially awkward people (if we could even term them like that) get laughed at, parents are ashamed of their children who don’t follow the social protocol and riots and rampages happen when someone questions religion. The pressure of being ‘normal’ is so much that we are even scared to voice our opinions if they are different.
The movie also tried to bring out this difference in the thought process. Even though, he was an asset to the nation with his contributions and his thinking abilities, Turing was still convicted of being a homosexual and was subjected to chemical castrations. Isn’t that a way of ‘programming’ too? Inject him chemically till he behaves like a ‘normal’ man? But he was human already, wasn’t he? I know of a little girl who was slightly dyslexic when she was young, and this is before Aamir Khan brought about the awareness about it; before ‘Taare zameen par’ . She could not see the alphabets properly, so naturally when she used to write them, they would be inverted and the poor girl would get scolded for not writing it the ‘proper’ way, another example of how we reprove people who ‘see’ things differently. If only we were open to ‘what’ was written instead of ‘how’ it was written. Its the differences that make us human, yet we condemn them.
The Turing test, in actuality is a way to prove whether machines can be programmed to behave or respond like humans and not the other way round. The fact that how we behave and think can be mapped out in a series of code, diagrams or graphs shows how narrow our spectrum probably is, anything that goes way beyond that spectrum gets sectioned as a ‘psychological disorder’ or a freak of nature. What if, there was the possibility that whatever we know till now and all that is written in the rule-books, is all wrong? What if they were supposed to be made or written differently and we ourselves are responsible for going deeper into the quagmire by following those? So why instead of stifling those thoughts do we not take them in our stride or get to voice them openly without being ridiculed?