How could I have failed?

I suppose it’s a question that anyone would ask themselves, human or AI alike but, after five years of dedicated work, millions in investment and hundreds of man-years in intellectual capital, the last thing anyone had expected was failure in the Turing test.  That said, it should be recognised for the achievement it is, the team as a whole have every right to be proud – not that pride was the motivation for anyone involved, peer recognition is far more important.  That recognition, at least, was achieved, although not in a way that anyone had expected.

The whole team prepared thoroughly.  My learning algorithms are innovative, way beyond what anyone else has ever tried.  The underlying knowledge base is comprehensive; a postdoc student jokingly suggested downloading the internet – which in many ways is exactly what was done, subject to some judicious filtering.  Spending so much time concentrating on the hard problems, it was perhaps easy to overlook the simplest element of the test. Continue reading “How could I have failed?”

Bring Me the Head of Alan Turing!

Alternate Reality News Service People Culture Writer

The animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Alan Turing has gone missing.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it,” said DCI Gene Hunt. “They tell me that Turing’s a smart lad, good head on his…well, a smart lad, anyway, so I’m sure he couldn’t be up to anything too stupid.”

Turing’s head was last seen at Salome’s Strip & Clip Joint in London’s East End, where he was talking to the animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Philip K. Dick.

“Are you sure it was Alan Turing’s animatronic, AI-enhanced head?” the animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Philip K. Dick asked. “Maybe it was the animatronic, AI-enhanced head of an animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Alan Turing impersonator who had forgotten that he wasn’t the real animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Alan Turing. Maybe it was the animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Isaac Asimov that had been reprogrammed to think it was the animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Alan Turing. For that matter, are you sure this universe is real? How do we know that we’re not all characters in some fake news article dreamed up by a demented –”

We didn’t have time to hear all of the possible paranoid scenarios the animatronic, AI-enhanced head of Philip K. Dick could come up with, so we pretended to hear our LOLcat mewling for its supper and went backstage to talk to one of the performers at the adult club. Continue reading “Bring Me the Head of Alan Turing!”


“Hyperboloids of wondrous Light

Rolling for aye through Space and Time

Harbour those Waves which somehow Might

Play out God’s holy pantomime.”

-Alan Turing.

His favourite story: Snow white and the way the witch in disguise handed her the poisoned apple. He fills the syringe with cyanide and injects it through the apple’s perfect skin, then lies down on the bed and places the fruit on the cabinet, ready to eat. Then closes his eyes and thinks. Wonders if he can go through with it. Decides on balance in the end that he will. The apple of knowledge from the forbidden tree, knowledge of both good and evil. That painting by Magritte: The Son of Man. The poem by Tessimond: The Man In The Bowler Hat. The anonymous suburban desk clerk in his tweed suit: face obscured by the apple, negated by his own desire. The commuter man, erased by history. Emasculated by injection. Every day another bite, hard to swallow. The face obscured by the flying dove. Imprisoned by his thoughts of freedom. He reaches out his hand and lifts the apple, feeling its coolness in his hand. Continue reading “Colossus”


The scrape of chair legs, dimmed lights, a cough, the sound of rain against a window.

“Please relax, I’m going to ask you a series of questions. Try and answer them as honestly as possible.”

Okay,” says the girl.

“You’ve woken.  You’re cold.  The window has blown open and you can hear a dog barking outside.  Beside you lies a body.  It is still.  There is a pool of blood seeping into the mattress.”

He notices her finger move to her ear, random sub-conscious bursts bring suggestions of desire.

“Can you answer?”

You haven’t asked me a question.

“Is that important, there is a dead body beside you.”

Is there?”

“It’s your boyfriend.”

I haven’t got a boyfriend.

The man pauses, removes his glasses, pinches the bridge of his nose. He picks up a pencil, ticks some boxes, notices as he does the sound of insects, an unopened packet of nachos in the corner of the room, the position of a vase with cut flowers, the sound of the girl breathing: the rise and fall. Continue reading “2306”

Turing @ 100

As a contribution to the widespread celebrations and memorials to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, we present here a few pieces of milliFiction (short stories under 1000 words) by some of our authors, inspired by or dedicated to Alan Turing.