Dress for Success

P.N. Furbank

  • Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman: A Tale of Political Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade by Gary Kates
    Basic Books, 368 pp, $25.00, May 1995, ISBN 0 465 04761 0

In his famous paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ (1950), Alan Turing described something he called the ‘Imitation Game’. In this game, a man and a woman are shut up in a room, and an interrogator, communicating with them from outside by means of written messages, attempts, by questioning, to discover which is the man and which the woman – it being the object of the man to pretend to be a woman and of the woman to expose him as a man. Now, argues Turing, imagine the part of the man being taken over by a machine, and, this machine putting up a good performance, would we not be inclined to say that the machine was ‘thinking’? Let us observe the logical intricacy, and beauty, of this mind-experiment. The machine is attempting to simulate not simply a man (in the sense of a member of the human species) but a man (in the sense of a member of the male sex) who is simulating a woman. Life compelled the hero of the present book to take part in a game somewhat of this kind, and he made an impressive showing, but every now and then the logic of the thing would be too much for him.

You are not logged in