Turing Machines and (Gothic) Horror
December 3, 2014 4:44 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in any writings connecting (Universal) Turing Machines and horror. The idea of computers being able to imitate the behaviour of anything speaks to me of the monsters and doppelgängers from the Gothic tradition onwards. Know any writings on this?

Alan Turing's 'Imitation Game' (not the film) plays a part in my hunch, as does the long discourse around biological processes as being 'machine-like'. Artificial Intelligence might come into this, but I am more interested in mimesis itself, and the fear this strikes in us. A machine able to imitate anything and everything surely echoes fears and nightmares that are labelled 'Gothic'.

Critical writings, fiction, articles and otherwise are very welcome indeed. Thanks.
posted by 0bvious to Technology (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if this is quite what you're looking for, but here's Moxon's Master, by Ambrose Bierce, published in 1893.
posted by mibo at 5:14 AM on December 3, 2014

Well mefi's own Charles Stross has a series that starts with The Atrocity Archives - scroll down to the Laundry Files - featuring a computational demonologist and extra-dimensional horrors (a la Lovecraft). I think it's definitely what you're looking for - and a lot of fun with a dark sense of humor as well.
posted by leslies at 5:19 AM on December 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not quite computation machinery imitating life, but:
This is an element within The Diamond Age through the teaching book.
Also in Seventy-Two Letters, a short story in Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang in which automata are built and "programmed" by Hebrew characters and it involves automata to make automata.
posted by plinth at 6:54 AM on December 3, 2014

You may like The Difference Engine. It's an alternative reality Babbage Engine/AI book with a gothic ghost in the machine and secret societies and such backdrop. It's not Turing, but still might fit the spirit of your request.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:00 AM on December 3, 2014

Ray Bradbury's Marionettes, Inc.
posted by rhythm and booze at 8:44 AM on December 3, 2014

Redemption Ark and the whole Revelation Space series of Alastair Reynolds have a dark and gothic feel, especially to the ultimate antagonists. The AI's, aliens, and skein of reality have a disturbingly manupulated tone.
posted by nickggully at 11:46 AM on December 3, 2014

Not directly relevant, but there might be a fruitful line of research here: Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at the suggestion of Lord Byron, father of Ada Lovelace, considered the first computer programmer. They were 18 years apart in age and perhaps knew one another?
posted by at at 2:46 PM on December 3, 2014

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