Now dissertating in earnest, it is time to read N. Katherine Hayles' How We Became Posthuman again.
Hayles begins her story with a prologue on the Turing test. What everyone knows about this test is that it has become the litmus test for identifying the moment when machines become "intelligent" (intelligent=ability to fool human beings, which, all things considered, is a pretty poor benchmark but, zenme ban). What no one remembers is that there were two versions of the test in Turing's proposal, the first being that one would interact via computer terminal with two unseen entities, and depending solely on the electronically transmitted responses to your questions, you would determine--not which was human, and which machine--but which one was a woman, and which a man.
"If your failure to distinguish correctly between human and machine proves that machines can think," Hayles asks, "what does it prove if you fail to distinguish woman from man?"
Andrew Hodges, a biographer of Turing, argues that the intent for inclusion of gender test is to show that gender, unlike intelligence, is in fact dependent upon unalterable physical reality. Hayles disagrees; the cases as presented are parallel, and point to a willingness to define gender in terms of symbolic manipulation similar to intelligence.
All of this reminds me of the hermits' marvelous diversion, the “gender genie” test, a kind of variation of the Turing gender test. What does this say about gender and identity? I fooled it successfully, and rather grandly—now I am a man? No; but it does tell you something interesting about my identity, that is, I am a woman who can successfully represent myself through verbal/semiotic markers as a man. And perhaps that is interesting.
The crucial move, as Hayles points out, is “distinguishing between the enacted body, present in the flesh on one side of the computer screen, and the represented body, produced through verbal and semiotic markers constituting it in an electronic environment.” And this, BTW, is the advent of the cyborg... Why? Because technology is the bridge connecting the physical and represented body/ies. The test requires disjunction, therefore: “What the Turing test 'proves' is that the overlay between the enacted and represented bodies is no longer natural inevitability but a contingent production, mediated by a technology that has become so intertwined with the production of identity that it can no longer meaningfully be separated from the human subject.”
And, of course, Gender Genie's verdict on the above:
Female Score: 428/Male Score: 701
The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male! (and in any case, definitely cyborg)