The news was going around this summer that "A Supercomputer Has Passed the Turing Test for the First Time." That article has several issues with it, not the least of which is the misleading headline, but when you read through, you notice irregularities.  The initial press release was quietly corrected to note that the program, "Eugene Goostman" was not a "supercomputer." The press release mentions that the program "pretends" to be a 13-year-old boy from the Ukraine, not fully fluent in English. Right away I see warning flags... but hey.


Let's set aside the fact that the "Eugene Goostman" claim is not the first.  Let's set aside that the participants didn't even manage to "beat" the test by the biggest recorded margin as they claim. Let's ignore that this program wasn't a "supercomputer" but a chatbot. Let's forgive that it passes the test by gaming the rules in a specific way. Set that ALL aside. Let's say just for the sake of argument that by some miracle we have on our hands a truly sentient machine -- That this is not simply further evidence that the "Turing Test" as presently modified to a state Turing wouldn't recognize, is bunk.

If the machine is sentient, what then?

I find that setting goals for myself is hard, and sticking to them even harder. My tendency then, is to keep my goals modest. Thus, with my writing my goal isn't to write the Great American Novel, or to even write a decent short story and submit it for publication.

My goal is to write five hundred words.

Yes, I'm an unabashed fan. I'm not apologizing for it. Ever.

Since around the time I was old enough to be aware of such things, I was a fan of Star Trek. Unfortunately, that was the year NBC cancelled it, so I mostly recall watching it as reruns.

In the 1970s, a group of Seattle-area fans got together and founded the Puget Sound Star Trekkers (PSST), under the leadership of Kitty Cantebury who passed away in 2012. PSST ran a Star Trek convention, which grew out of control, lost money left and right and put Kitty into bankruptcy. After the second PSSTCon, a third was held, ostensibly to pay off Kitty's personal debt.

George Takei was the guest of honor that year. It was a single-day convention. He was a real sport, and I believe it was Kitty who presented him with the "Captain Sulu" t-shirt. This was many years before the character showed up in Star Trek 6 as captain of his own ship. I never asked what George's fee was, I wasn't involved in running the convention. He may have come free of charge, as Heinlein had the year before.

But of course, that's not why George Takei is the best person ever.