Commit e3b957fb authored by Geoff Cox's avatar Geoff Cox

Update Readme.md

parent 687271e3
......@@ -380,11 +380,11 @@ There are clear power dynamics at work in computing, at a fundamental level even
Whether [...] gathering information, telecommunicating, running washing machines, doing sums, or making videos, all digital computers translate information into zeros and ones of machine code. These binary digits are known as bits and strung together in bytes of eight'. The zeros and ones of machine code seems to offer themselves as perfect symbols of the orders of Western reality, the ancient logical codes which make the difference between on and off, right and left, light and dark, form and matter, mine and body, white and black, good and evil, right and wrong, life and death, something and nothing, this and that, here and there, inside and out, active and passive, true and false, yes and no, sanity and madness, health and sickness, up and down, sense and nonsense, west and east, north and south. And they made a lovely couple when it came to sex. Man and woman, male and female, masculine and feminine: one and zero looked just right, made for each other: 1, the definite, upright line; the 0, the diagram of nothing at all: penis and vagina, thing and hole... hand in glove. A perfect match.<sup>[9](#myfootnote9)</sup>
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Although it takes two to make a binary (and set up the heterosexist paradigm), clearly inequalities of power are expressed in the tendency to privilege one side of the equation over the other (master and slave, human and machine, and so on). As discussed in the previous chapter (referring to automatism), and to be further discussed in the final chapter of this book (in terms of machine learning), the Turing Test resonates with these power dynamics. Plant quotes Alan Turing in saying: "the intention in constructing these machines in the first instance is to treat them as slaves, giving them only jobs which have been thought out in detail, jobs such that the user of the machine fully understands in principle what is going on all the time." <sup>[10](#myfootnote10)</sup> Plant's further example is the sci-fi film *Bladerunner* (1984) as an advanced Turing Test where the only indication of artificiality is a tiny flicker in the eye's iris with response to close questioning. In this story too, the worker-slaves have begun to question their conditions. Through such examples it becomes clear that the ability to imagine conditions differently is embedded in the system itself, in the potential failures to carry out instructions as commanded.
Although it takes two to make a binary (and set up the heterosexist paradigm), clearly inequalities of power are expressed in the tendency to privilege one side of pairing (master and slave, human and machine, and so on). As discussed in the previous chapter (referring to automatism), and to be further discussed in the final chapter of this book (in terms of machine learning), the Turing Test resonates with these power dynamics. Plant quotes Alan Turing in saying: "the intention in constructing these machines in the first instance is to treat them as slaves, giving them only jobs which have been thought out in detail, jobs such that the user of the machine fully understands in principle what is going on all the time."<sup>[10](#myfootnote10)</sup> Plant's further example is the sci-fi film *Bladerunner* (1984) as an advanced Turing Test where the only indication of artificiality is a tiny flicker in the eye's iris with response to close questioning. In this story too, the worker-slaves have begun to question their conditions. Through such examples it becomes clear that the ability to imagine conditions differently is embedded in the system itself, in the potential failures to carry out prescipted instructions or commands.
The biography of Turing as a gay man at a time when homosexuality was still a criminal offense in the UK adds weight to these claims.<sup>[11](#myfootnote11)</sup> Humans do not necessarily follow or agree with the rules as they are prescribed by society, and although Turing's sexuality was tolerated in the context of the war effort, under 'normal' (peaceful) conditions it was perceived to be a problem. Plant cites Michel Foucault (as she puts it, himself also a "renegade from the heterosexist reproductive process"), to describe this kind of system of control as "bio-power", not deplotyed through a centralized command structure but dispersed, multiple, and automatic, operating like a networked machine.<sup>[12](#myfootnote12)</sup>
The biography of Turing as a gay man at a time when homosexuality was still a criminal offense in the UK adds weight to these claims.<sup>[11](#myfootnote11)</sup> Humans do not necessarily follow or agree with rules as prescribed by society, and although Turing's sexuality was tolerated in the context of the war effort, under 'normal' (peaceful) conditions it was perceived to be a problem. Plant cites Michel Foucault (as she puts it, also a "renegade from the heterosexist reproductive process"), to describe this kind of system of control as "bio-power", not deplotyed through a centralized command structure but dispersed, multiple, and automatic, operating like a networked machine.<sup>[12](#myfootnote12)</sup>
Turing uncracked codes at Bletchley Park that others couldn't understand but also paradoxically was taken to be a cracked code himself, eventually found guilt of "gross indecency" in 1952. Here, as Plant describes, the historical facts collapse into bizarre allegory. First of all, he was proscribed oestrogen to reduce his sexual urge, under the dubious logic that to all intensive purposes he was female - this was a reversal of earlier judgements to give gay men testosterone to make them more male, yet ironically making them sex machines.<sup>[13](#myfootnote13)</sup> Plant concludes the Turing story: "Two years later he was dead [...] 'By the side of the table was an apple, out of which several bites had been taken.' And this queer tale does not end here. There are rainbow logos with Turing's missing bytes on every Apple Macintosh machine."<sup>[14](#myfootnote14)</sup>
Turing uncracked codes at Bletchley Park that others couldn't understand but also paradoxically was taken to be a "cracked code" himself, eventually found guilt of gross indecency in 1952. Here, as Plant describes, the historical facts collapse into bizarre allegory. First of all, he was proscribed oestrogen to reduce his sexual urge, under the dubious logic that to all intensive purposes he was female - this was a reversal of earlier judgements to give gay men testosterone to make them more male, yet ironically making them sex machines.<sup>[13](#myfootnote13)</sup> Plant concludes the Turing story: "Two years later he was dead [...] 'By the side of the table was an apple, out of which several bites had been taken.' And this queer tale does not end here. There are rainbow logos with Turing's missing bytes on every Apple Macintosh machine."<sup>[14](#myfootnote14)</sup>
To conclude this chapter, through exploring the making of *Vocable Code* with its strange syntax - such as notFalse and notTrue - and its many repetitive decimals, we would like to emphasise the central point: Queer is... making binaries strange.
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