Sunday Book-Thought 125

My argument, then, is this: computers are unique in the history of writing technologies in that they present a premeditated material environment built and engineered to propagate an illusion of immateriality; the digital nature of computational representation is precisely what enables this illusion – or else call it a working model – of immaterial behavior.
Matthew G. KirschenbaumMechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008), p. 135.


Sunday Book-Thought 124

The appeal of Turing’s test is easy to understand. It offers an operational definition of intelligence quite in the spirit of behavioral psychology in the postwar era. A programmer can measure success by statistics – the number of human subjects fooled by his machine. The test seems to require no subjective judgment; it says nothing about the machine writing a good poem or solving an important mathematical theorem. Every humanist, of course, is tempted to devise his own Turing test and so his own definition of humanity: a computer will never be fully human unless it can laugh, cry, feel sympathy, feel pain, and so on. Someone has suggested that a computer will pass for a human only when it begins to ask what are the differences between itself and a human being.
Jay David BolterTuring’s Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age (London: Duckworth, 1984), p. 191.