|Martin Shkreli posing with an Enigma Machine|
FBI Arrest Pharma CEO Martin Shkreli In New York City.
Earlier this year, a couple of Blog readers asked me for my opinion of Martin Shkreli (b. 1983).
I replied that it was a safe bet that Mr. Shkreli would very soon end up in prison.
I went on to state that Mr. Shkreli (who is in his early 30s) is a tragicomic figure who looks, and behaves, like an absurd, swaggering adolescent who has learned how to fool adults by reciting impressive-sounding, technical jargon.
Simply by co-opting the name, 'Turing Pharmaceuticals,' for his latest company, Mr. Shkreli has attempted to identify with Alan Turing. In reality, for several years, he has been exhibiting the diagnostic criteria of severe and inflexible Narcissistic Personality Disorder,* but lately, Mr. Shkreli's ego-inflating, comic-book fantasies have become increasingly grandiose and dangerous.
Typically, Mr. Shkreli has also been posing as a victim.
- has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
- is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, ideal love, etc.
- believes that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people.
- requires excessive admiration.
- strong sense of self-entitlement.
- takes advantage of others to achieve his/her own ends.
- lacks empathy.
- is often envious or believes that others are envious of him/her.
- arrogant disposition.
In plain language, Mr. Shkreli is yet another mediocre (previously-penniless) little charlatan who has managed to get his hands on large sums of other people's capital by hovering around Wall St. and steadfastly pretending that he's an important, philanthropic, scientific and business, genius, who knows how to make piles of money lawfully.
Mr Shkreli has finally been arrested for running a Ponzi scheme and manipulating the market, revealing that the only possible connection he has with Alan Turing is that (when asked the right common-sense questions) he fails the Turing Test.
|Dr. Alan Turing (1912-1954)|
Today, Dr. Alan Mathison Turing is universally recognised as a giant, but tragic, figure in history.
1931-1934, Alan Turing studied mathematics a Kings College Cambridge, graduating with a first class honours degree.
I935, Alan Turing (aged just 22) was elected as a fellow of Kings College.
(1936-1938) Dr. Turing studied mathematics and cryptology at Princeton University, obtaining a PhD in 1938.
When the wider picture is examined, Dr. Turing and his Bletchley Park colleagues could not have succeeded, but for the groundwork of Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski of the Polish Cypher Bureau. With the help of German documentation recovered by French military intelligence, in 1932 these three brilliant, young mathematician/cryptologists, first reverse-engineered the original Enigma machine using theoretical mathematics. Mechanical devices were then developed for deciphering intercepted-Enigma-encrypted radio messages, but after 1938, German cryptologists took the precaution of vastly-increasing the complexity of Enigma machines by adding extra rotors, and the Poles did not have the necessary resources to counter this sudden advance. Consequently, fearing an imminent German attack on their country, in July 1939, Polish leaders and intelligence chiefs handed over to British and French Military intelligence agents (stationed in Warsaw), everything that Polish cryptologists had managed to achieve. Subsequently, all tangible traces of this initial breach in the security of Enigma, were destroyed.
The timely, secret transfer of Polish expertise saved neither Poland nor France from invasion, but it did enable Dr. Turing and his colleagues to develop a much more powerful, and rapid, electromechanical calculating machine capable of decrypting almost all intercepted, heavily-encrypted Enigma-messages. The resulting massive-flow of important up-to-date strategic intelligence that the British government and military, air and naval, commanders obtained via Bletchley Park, was itself given the code-name, 'Ultra' a.k.a. the 'Ultra Secret.' At various times during WWII, Winston Churchill felt obliged not to act on 'Ultra' intelligence for fear that, by doing so, German intelligence would realise what was occurring. However, even though the evidence of a near-total communications security breach often stared them in the face, the leaders of the 'Aryan Master Race,' and their partners in crime, were evidently incapable of accepting that almost every move they ordered to be made, was known by their inferior opponents, before it was made.
Officially, in 1954, Dr. Turing (aged 41) committed suicide by eating part of an apple which he had injected, and/or coated, with cyanide poison. However, although cyanide was found in Dr. Turing's body and at his home, the remains of the apple (recovered from a bedside table next to his body), were never tested, and there are now a number of commentators calling for a full inquiry into Dr. Turing's enigmatic 'Snow White/ Wicked Queen'-style death; and particularly, to uncover what hidden role UK security services might have played.
In truth, Dr. Turing was effectively-executed in 1952 (aged 39), when he was arrested for, and convicted of, the (then) common criminal offence of 'gross indecency' (i.e. homosexual activity between consenting adults) and sentenced to chemical castration (i.e. as an alternative to a humiliating prison sentence, he was released on the condition that he accept female hormone injections for a period of 12 months). Given the fact that, in 1950s Britain, male homosexuals and bisexuals, were often physically attacked as dangerous paedophiles, perverts and pariahs, and could, if convicted of 'gross indecency,' be imprisoned for life, the events surrounding Dr. Turing's arrest, have never been fully-explained; for he went to his local police station in Manchester to report that he'd been the victim of a crime, and gave an apparently reckless statement in which he openly-admitted that he'd been involved in a passionate relationship with a much younger man who turned out to be a thief.
Although, in 1952, very few people knew the extraordinary truth about Dr. Turing's central role in the defeat of tyranny, evidently, the British government (again led by Sir Winston Churchill) made no attempt to protect him and, instead, abandoned him to a fate which clearly he did not deserve. The fact that Winston Churchill partly built his own reputation in history by standing on the shoulders of intellectual giants (knowing that, for decades, they could not be given any credit), reveals his personal failure to intervene on behalf of Dr. Turing in 1952, to have been both morally-reprehensible and (surprisingly, for a Nobel Prize-winning historian) short-sighted.
|Werhner von Braun (centre left rear, in civilian dress)|
|Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein|
In 1953, Dr. Turing is known to have been interviewed by British police officers, this time regarding a young Norwegian man who had been visiting with him. He is also known to have taken a holiday in Greece which, due to its proximity to the Soviet Empire, must have really got his MI5 case officers in a flap. However, the extent and nature of the British security services' contact with Dr. Turing in the two years prior to his death, has never been made public.
Although Dr. Turing's friends and family (who initially knew nothing of his historically-important work as a codebreaker) continued to believe that he died accidentally after handling cyanide during a chemistry experiment, other informed-observers have lately-concluded that there is a very strong likelihood he was silenced by MI5, who deliberately applied pressure on him knowing that he would crack and kill himself; for, after WWII, a number of captured Enigma machines were sold by the victorious Allies to developing countries whose leaders and intelligence chiefs had been led to believe that, in its most-advanced form, Enigma was still completely secure. In reality, and unbeknown to the coroner who pronounced a verdict of suicide, at the time of Dr. Turing's death, British, French and American intelligence agencies were all regularly intercepting Enigma-encrypted messages. These top secret communications (some of which must have contained commercially-valuable inside-information) might as well have all been written in plain language due to the computing techniques which Dr. Turing had developed for, and given to, his country.
Had Dr. Turing made a run for it and blown the whistle on the vast intelligence-gathering Enigma fraud (a la Edward Snowden), then all Hell might have broken loose.
Following on from work he began in 1941, in 1950, Dr. Turing published a paper, 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence,' in which he discussed the existing philosophical question of whether machines can think. He then proposed a test, in the form of a blind question and answer game, where computers would be used to try to convince humans that they were not engaging with machines, but with other humans. Thus, despite its appearance, the 'Turing Test' is not a high-brow parlour-game or even a scientific experiment to determine whether machines can think, but a rudimentary, logical test of whether an artificial mind can be made to appear to have the same cognitive capacity as the human mind.
In recent years, various people have suggested ways in which the 'Turing Test' can be reversed, but, as far as I am aware, no one has yet suggested that Dr. Turing's celebrated thoughts on artificial intelligence, can also be applied to the study of the cult/totalitarian phenomenon; for, due to their incapacity to engage with external reality, the inflexible core-adherents of totalistic cults have often been compared to robots. However, the way that exploitative, self-perpetuating non-rational ritual belief systems bait, trap and enslave their prey, by reflecting common human instinctual desires as being obtainable in exchange for absolute subservience, can also be compared to a phenomenon which Dr. Turing did not live to witness - computer viruses. Had Dr. Turing been able to continue his work, he might have eventually felt the need to propose a rudimentary, logical test of whether an artificial mind can be made to appear to have the same ego-related capacity to become delusional as the human mind; for although cult adherents insist that no one is controlling them and that they are excercizing free-will, nonetheless, illogically, and without exception, they all see the world in mechanical two-dimensional terms ('negative vs positive', 'us vs them' , 'good vs evil' , 'winners vs losers', etc. ), communicate in code-like thought-stopping language and obey their de facto programmers without question (no matter what suffering this entails).
Given a detailed knowledge of any Utopian fiction modifying the personalities and behaviour of the core-adherents of a particular cultic group, it would, therefore, be a relatively simple matter to program a machine to duplicate the adherents' systematic responses (or indignant refusal to respond), to a series of blind questions concerning the contents of the group's controlling narrative. In other words, the predictable answers given by deluded core-cult adherents, and those given by machines programmed to duplicate human minds dissociated from external reality, would be indistinguishable.
David Brear (copyright 2015)