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The Turing Test, Part Two

October 12, 2015

Preface:  A long layoff, I know.  For those of you who know me personally, you are aware of the rather intense transition my life has endured over the last few months.  If you don’t know me, and our curious…you can send an inquiry by email.  I’m not going to bother with it here. I do wish to return to blogging, and will begin by returning to this story from March 8.

To continue:  I had worked constantly, desperate to complete the Turing Machine, and pass the class.  Every time I thought I had solved the problem, it turned out I had failed.  I was becoming desperate, but there was no internet to help me, and I didn’t know the other students in class well enough to request their assistance.  Part of it was hubris:  I didn’t think I should need that help.  I had already spent all of Professor Otte’s office hours having him re-teach me the class.  I wanted to show that I could do this on my own.

The problem was…it didn’t seem like I could.

In spite of all of my efforts, the last day of the quarter arrived, and I still hadn’t solved it.  I worked on it all night, and it was now 8 a.m., and the assignment was due in two hours. With a non-functional Turing Machine, I would not pass the class. My second quarter as a transfer student, and I will have failed one of my courses. In my major.  This was not good.

When my final attempt failed, I simply rose from the desk and headed into the shower.  I’d turn the assignment in, and hope the professor would take pity on me.  Maybe he’d give me an extension. Maybe he’d give me an incomplete. Maybe he’d let me change my grade to “audit.”  I didn’t have any reason to think he would, but it was this hope that I clung to. I had to in order to avoid the humiliation I was feeling due to trying so desperately hard to succeed and having utterly failed.  I took what I could only describe as the “Shower of Failure”: I leaned against the shower wall as the water bounced off of me.  I did nothing else.

And perhaps it was because this was the first time in five weeks I hadn’t been thinking about the god damn Turing Machine, I was suddenly struck by an idea.  Wait, could that…that might…oh my god!  That might work!! Yes!! That might work!! No…that will work!!!

I leaped from the shower and raced over the computer and punched in the program pattern. I didn’t want to wait–I was terrified if I did, I’d forget my idea.  The pattern looked good.  I tried a configuration of numbers.  It worked.  I tried a  different number combination.  It also worked!  Another–success!  I altered the configuration, because it had to apply to different variables.  Yes.  A different number combination.  Yes.   Another combination.  Yes.  A different configuration. Yes!

I think I sat at the computer a half an hour typing every variation I could think of.  The machine passed every one.  It worked.  It worked!  It finally worked!

I began shouting the phrase “IT WORKS!” over and over again as I indulged in a spontaneous,  purely caffeine and adrenaline fueled Spontaneous Energetic Happy Dance of Victory.  I shrieked “IT WORKS.” at everything–plants, furniture, the food in the refrigerator, the spider in the corner of the bedroom.  I screamed at Zorro, my pet tortoise. He was singularly unimpressed, but I didn’t care.   I had done it!  I had created a successful Turing Machine.  I was going to pass. I wasn’t a failure.  I was the logic God!

Alan Turing, whose machine became the bane of my existence for five weeks in college. None of which compares to what he endured.

Alan Turing, whose machine became the bane of my existence for five weeks in college. None of which compares to what he endured.

The only thing that paused my revelry was a strange sensation underneath my feet and between my toes. Why were my feet wet?  Why was…the entire floor wet?  It was then that I realized that when I raced from the shower I had forgotten two very important things:  one being I never shut off the water, and now the apartment was nearly flooded.

The second thing I had chosen not to do was actually get dressed.  I had been solving the Turing Machine and celebrating my success completely naked.  With all of the windows in my apartment opened.  On all sides, which allowed several of my neighbors a front row seat to my victory dance.  Not exactly Magic Mike, but they were all staring at me.

I stared back at them a moment.  I’m certain a silly grin crossed my face, as I instinctively began to hide myself. I scanned the room for something to cover myself before meeting my neighbors persistent gaze.  I then impulsively raced over to the window, stuck my head out and shouted “I SOLVED THE FUCKING TURING MACHINE!” and continued my celebration. The neighbors watched, still confused and intrigued by the insane white man.

A few minutes later I was dressed and outside.  I leaped onto my motorcycle, and as I pulled out of the apartment parking lot, I glanced behind me. The neighbors continued to stare.  I laughed out loud as I raced up toward campus. I continued to giggle as I handed to the computer disc to a confused Professor Otte, and giggled all the way home.

There are a number of lessons one can derive from this story.  I think perhaps the most important one is this:  Don’t ever take Advanced Symbolic Logic.

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