Posts Tagged ‘ Turing ’

Staff Picks: Broccoli Puzzles, Bot Poetry, and Banana Pudding

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THIS WEEK’S READING

 

FRANNY CHOI.

 

To pass a Turing test, a robot must trick an examiner into believing it is human. It must perform or passwhich sometimes involves performing errors to appear more humanlike. But even the errors are part of a design to make the robot work, in the sense of function: achieve what they were designed to achieve. There is something disturbingly teleological about the test—that robots should and will arrive at humanness. Like capitalism, the test is (or at least has become) competitive. It demands that everything and everyone be productive. Franny Choi’s forthcoming poetry collection Soft Science adopts the Turing test as a structural frame with six “TURING TEST” poems spaced throughout the book. The reader might understand Choi as the cyborg taking the test. But if so, she’s a cyborg in revolt, not allowing the examiner to let her pass. What’s more, the examiner is a cyborg, too, as is the reader: “remember / all humans / are cyborgs / all cyborgs / are sharp shards of sky / wrapped in meat.” Choi tells us what we need to hear: that we possess the radical potential of the glitch and the possibility of unbecoming productive machines of capitalism. Do humans “work,” or are we already broken? Do we want to work? Is unchecked production our ambition? Should we design robots to act like humans, when humans can be so despicable? My favorite poem from the collection describes the life of Chi, from the manga Chobits, a broken android whom the protagonist rescues from a trash pile. Choi writes from the android’s perspective, remembering the trash, lamenting, “as if I could rot / as if they didn’t make us / to last & last.” I think Choi wishes we could be allowed to rot and return to the soil. She reminds us elsewhere that it’s okay to wither, to “commune with miles of darkness,” to reach into our circuit boards and pull ourselves apart. The beginnings of our way out of capitalism will involve such pulling both delicate and violent—tiny hands wrenching, striving for clarity, honest and ruthlessly specific language like what Choi offers up. —Spencer Quong

Soft Science may be purchased directly from the publisher at Alice James Books

Source: Staff Picks: Broccoli Puzzles, Bot Poetry, and Banana Pudding