CONVERSATIONAL ACTIVISM

A small familiar figure dressed regally in pink strolls through banks of flashing screens this week: the British National Cyber Security Centre has its royal opening. Perfect melding of past, present and future.

Only days before, a colleague reported the horror of being the object of such an attack, of having his laptop ‘taken over’ by a remote miscreant.   He still owned the thing. He just had no control over it.  An emerging pattern for our lives; a growing distinction between what we think we ‘have’ and what we actually control.

In the spirit of forcing connections to generate something useful, let’s link this to……conversation.  The Loebner Prize has been running since 1990, and awards prizes to AI ‘bots that can pass the Turing test. This test derives from Turing’s suggestion that to assess whether machines can think, test whether in conversation (with a panel of judges) they are indistinguishable from humans.

Only recently did I discover that there is also a prize in this competition for the Most Human Human. The competition that set out to look at the intelligence of machines has also become an enquiry into human conversation and communication.

’Oxford philosopher John Lucas says that if the Turing test is passed, it will not be “because machines are so intelligent, but because humans, many of them at least, are so wooden.”’

So. Our regular human conversation is so…robotic, that it can be learned and copied and developed.  This is sounding suspiciously like owning but not controlling our conversational powers and skills.

It may have been the after effect of witnessing 4 super-bright people in a super-bright consultancy say absolutely nothing significant to each other over an hour. But all this really has sharpened my commitment to encouraging real, connection-generating, and human, conversations.

Take back control of conversational power.

Try out some conversational activism.

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