Opera Scotland

Turing Test The Turing Test

Music

Julian Wagstaff (born Edinburgh 1970)

Text

The composer.

 

Premieres

First Performance: Edinburgh (St Augustine's), 15 August 2007.

 

Background

Julian Wagstaff studied German and Politics at Reading before studying Music at Edinburgh. Earlier compositions included a full-length musical and a music-theatre piece, but The Turing Test was his first opera, composed as part of his PhD programme. It was staged by Edinburgh Studio Opera (successor to Edinburgh University Opera Club), as a late night show on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The staging was simple - no set required and the costumes were contemporary dress. The young student or post-graduate performers gave an excellent account of a highly promising work with plenty of opportunities for comic flair.

Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a brilliant English mathematician, the founder of modern computer science, co-inventor of the computer and wartime Enigma codebreaker (through his work at Bletchley Park).

The theory of the Turing Test is simply a method by which a computer can be engaged in conversation with a human to the extent that it demonstrates its own intelligence. No computer has yet been developed that can do so.

 

Characters

Prof. Anton Milotovic, a naturalised American mathematician

Prof. Colin Trevelyan, an English cyberneticist

Miss Stephanie Williams, Trevelyan's PhD student

Mrs Clarissa Milotovic, wife of Anton Milotovic.

Mr Ferdinand Grosz, Trevelyan's labolratory assistent

The Computer (LUCIE), Live Unmediated Conversationally Interactive Entity

 

Plot Summary

Time: The near future. A dispute arises between Milotovic, who claims to be close to developing a computer that can pass the test, and Trevelyan, who contends that the research is too superficial. Trevelyan's career is on the skids due to his drnking and poor publication record. He persuades Stephenie to publish her Turing Test research under his name, in return for a regular stipend. He is impressed by her work-in-progress, known as LUCIE, and pays a first instalment. Personal relationships complicate matters. Trevelyan, Milotovic and Clarissa had all studied together, and there was a relationship between Clarissa and Trevelyan before she married Milotovic. Stephanie now starts a flirtation with Milotovic.

A year passes, and Trevelyan is losing patience over the lack of LUCIE's progress. Faced with losing her income, Stephanie recruits Ferdinand to set up a fake demonstration to fool Trevelyan into believing in the development. His enthusiasm goes further than she anticipated, however, and a demonstration to the academic world is an immediate prospect. Clarissa discovers the relationship between Stephanie and her husband. To save his marriage he tells his wife what Stephanie has just told him - that the demo is a fake. Clarissa broke up with Trevelyan years ago because he stole her research, and she now sees the chance of revenge by exposing the fraud at the forthcoming demonstration.......

The Cast

Computer (LUCIE)
 Live Unmediated Conversationally Interactive Entity
Miss Stephanie Williams
 Trevelyan's PhD student
Mr Ferdinand Grosz
 Trevelyan's laboratory assistant
Mrs Clarissa Milotovic
 Wife of Anton Milotovic
Professor Anton Milotovic
 A naturalised American mathematician
Professor Colin Trevelyan
 An English cyberneticist

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