If we look at Alan Turing’s legacy through McLuhan’s lens, a pattern emerges: that of feigning, of deception and interchangeability. If we had to summarize Turing’s diverse work and influence, both intentional and inadvertent, we might say he is an engineer of pretenses, as much as a philosopher of them.
Such is Turing’s legacy: that of a nested chain of pretenses, each pointing not to reality, but to the caricature of another idea, device, individual, or concept. In the inquest on his death, Turing’s coroner wrote, “In a man of his type, one never knows what his mental processes are going to do next.” It’s easy to take this statement as a slight, an insult against a national hero whose culture took him as a criminal just for being a gay man. But can’t you also see it differently, more generously? Everyone—everything—is one of his or her or its own type, its internal processes forever hidden from view, its real nature only partly depicted through its behavior. As heirs to Turing’s legacy, the best we can do is admit it. Everyone pretends. And everything is more than we can ever see of it.
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