Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Martin Shkreli fails the Turing Test

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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. 

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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. 

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Typically, Mr. Shkreli has also been posing as a victim.


‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder,’ is a psychological term first used in 1971 by Dr. Heinz Kohut (1913-1981). It was recognised as the name for a form of pathological narcissism in ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 1980.’ Narcissistic traits (where a person talks highly of himself/herself to eliminate feelings of worthlessness) are common in, and considered ‘normal’ to, human psychological development. When these traits become accentuated by a failure of the social environment and persist into adulthood, they can intensify to the level of a severe mental disorder. Severe and inflexible NPD is thought to effect less than 1% of the general adult population. It occurs more frequently in men than women. In simple terms, NPD is reality-denying, total self-worship born of its sufferers’ unconscious belief that they are flawed in a way that makes them fundamentally unacceptable to others. In order to shield themselves from the intolerable rejection and isolation which they unconsciously believe would follow if others recognised their defective nature, NPD sufferers go to almost any lengths to control others’ view of, and behaviour towards, them. NPD sufferers often choose partners, and raise children, who exhibit ‘co-narcissism’ (a co-dependent personality disorder like co-alcoholism). Co-narcissists organize themselves around the needs of others (to whom they feel responsible), they accept blame easily, are eager to please, defer to others’ opinions and fear being seen as selfish if they act assertively. NPD was observed, and apparently well-understood, in ancient times. Self-evidently, the term, ‘narcissism,’ comes from the allegorical myth of Narcissus, the beautiful Greek youth who falls in love with his own reflection.

Currently, NPD has nine recognised diagnostic criteria (five of which are required for a diagnosis):

  •       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. 

Alan Turing is the individual who, in 1936, set out and formalised the concepts which produced the Universal Turing machine - the first theoretical model for a general purpose computer. As a result, Dr.Turing is considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. The central principle of today's computers (i.e. controlling the machine's operations by a program of coded instructions stored in a memory) was Alan Turing's original idea.

(1936-1938) Dr. Turing studied mathematics and cryptology at Princeton University, obtaining a PhD in 1938.

During WWII, Dr. Turing (who had been talent-spotted and recruited by British Military Intelligence on his return to Cambridge in 1938) worked at the Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park, where (by applying the principle that what can be constructed by a human mind: can also be taken to pieces another human mind) he developed various techniques for deciphering messages sent via the most-advanced version of the German 'Enigma' enciphering/deciphering machine. This electromechanical device (which had been in existence since the end of WWI), had previously been considered as completely secure. 

It is now a matter of historical record that, but for Dr.Turing, WWII would almost-certainly have dragged on at least until 1947.

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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.  

Winston Churchill reportedly told King George VI, that 'it was thanks to Ultra, that we won the War.' However, the 'Ultra Secret' remained closely-guarded until the 1970s, when the techniques involved, finally became out-dated. 

After the war, Dr. Turing (who had acquired a reputation as a charming, but eccentric, loner, prone to dramatic swings of mood) appeared to return to his previous academic career, but he continued to work in secret for GCHQ (the successor to Bletchley Park and equivalent of America's National Security Agency).

Officially, in 1954, Dr. Turing (aged 41) committed suicide by eating part of an apple which he had injected, and/or coated, with cyanide poisonHowever, 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)

What  Dr. Turing was forced to endure in silence, is almost unimaginable. Apart from the fact that (like thousands of other gay British men) he was punished for something over which he had no control, he must also of been fully-aware that, in 1945, a significant number of 'Nazi' scientists  - like ballistic missile inventor, Werhner von Braun (a member of the SS who designed Hitler's so-called 'revenge weapons' which caused death and misery to thousands of slave labourers, not to mention death and mutilation to thousands of British men, women and children) - had been allowed to escape all prosecution as war criminals, because the US government offered them amnesty in return for their expertise. Ironically, von Braun (who was born in the same year as Alan Turing), was already, in 1954, an important and wealthy man in the USA. Von Braun was even awarded the US National Medal of Science two years before his death in 1977 (but he was too ill to attend the presentation ceremony at the White House). Yet , even today, Dr.Turing's personal role in saving countless American lives and billions of dollars, has never been officially recognised in the USA.

Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein

In view of his own previous achievements (and his youth), Dr.Turing's unjust categorisation as a degenerate, could easily have been recognised by the British government as being contrary to national interests, for the 'Nazis' had caused many of Europe's most-brilliant thinkers (like Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr) to flee to the USA, because, as Jews, they were also unjustly categorised as degenerate. These same European scientists, first took a leading role in persuading the US Government to commit funds to develop the Atomic bomb - knowing that the 'Nazis' were already on the same path. They then took a leading role in developing the Atomic bomb.

Unfortunately, in 1952, British Intelligence agencies, under pressure from their American counterparts, were operating a rule preventing known-homosexuals being given security clearance. Indeed, many gay men were being unjustly removed from key-positions in Britain (particularly, in the armed forces and civil service), because (mainly due to the illegality of homosexual activity) they were rightly considered to be easy blackmail targets. The previous year, British intelligence had been heavily-embarrassed when two of its agents, Guy Burgess and Kim Philby (both of whom were homosexuals who had been secretly groomed and recruited by KGB agents, when they were university students), had disappeared to the Soviet Union after passing secret intelligence to the Soviets for 20 years.Thus, after his arrest, Dr. Turing had his security clearance immediately revoked and he was excluded from GCHQ. Self-evidently, he must have been placed under M15 surveillance as major security threat  - another possible defector and KGB blackmail targetbut with access to the greater part of the Ultra Secret, and to Cold War, code-breaking techniques.

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.

Edward Snowden

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.

September 10th 2009, following an Internet-based campaign, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, made an official apology for 'the appalling and inhumane way Dr. Turing was treated.' However, Mr. Brown conveniently failed to point out that this 'appalling inhumane treatment,' had been at the hands of a overtly-homophobic, but (in many cases) covertly-homosexual, British establishment, the hypocritical members of which had mostly-failed to recognise, let alone challenge, the rise of the pernicious 'Nazi' ritual belief system, and whom Dr. Turing had secretly played a leading role in saving from destruction.

In May 2012, a private member's Bill was put before the UK House of Lords to grant Dr. Turing a statutory pardon for his criminal conviction of 1952. However, on December 23rd, 2013, it was announced that Dr. Turing had been granted a pardon under the (rarely-used) Royal Prerogative of Mercy.


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-willnonetheless, 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 narrativeIn 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)


  1. aw I really thought you were going to explore the possibility of Shkreli failing the Turing test.
    I have ad-blocker - Thanks for wasting both of our time!

  2. Anonymous - I think youv've just failed the Turing Test yourself with your gibberish.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Jr. Williams. Be a good fellow and don't try to post any more links to 'MLM' bullshit on this Blog.