Friday, 14 February 2014

You are my fellow feeling

I’m not really a fan of Valentine’s Day, but it did make me think of this. In June 1948, Alan Turing and a small research team at Manchester University persuaded a stored-program computer to work for the first time. Turing became a proselytiser for artificial intelligence, believing that this ‘mechanical brain’ would one day be able to compete on equal terms with a human brain - to the extent that it would be able write sonnets as well as Shakespeare, although he conceded that the comparison was ‘a little unfair’ because a sonnet written by a machine would be better appreciated by another machine. Using the 1951 model of the Manchester computer, nicknamed the Blue Pig, Turing and his colleague Christopher Strachey created a programme (using algorithms for building sentences and synonyms for love from Roget’s Thesaurus) that could produce love letters, such as:

Darling Sweetheart
You are my fellow feeling. My affection curiously clings to your passionate wish. My liking yearns to your heart. You are my wistful sympathy: my tender liking.
Yours beautifully
M.U.C.

And:

Honey Dear
My sympathetic affection beautifully attracts your affectionate enthusiasm. You are my loving adoration: my breathless adoration. My fellow feeling breathlessly hopes for your dear eagerness. My lovesick adoration cherishes your avid ardour.
Yours wistfully
M.U.C.

M.U.C. stands for Manchester University Computer. He/she sounds like a keeper.

1 comment:

  1. A good deal better than 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.'

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