Not a Genius move: Resurrecting war hero Alan Turing as your 'chief AI officer'

Chatbot vendor should end the campaign and apologize

Comment Genius Group has broken free of a crowded field to launch what can only be described as the most tasteless marketing campaign in tech history.

In a world where it is hard to imagine the IT industry hitting a new low, the chatbot slinger has outdone itself by needlessly co-opting the name and approximate image of Alan Turing, one of the founders of modern computing who made a lifesaving contribution to the allied war effort only to die young under tragic circumstances.

Seemingly unaware of his own crassness, Genius Group CEO Roger James Hamilton took to Xitter yesterday to welcome the organization's "new Chief AI Officer, Alan Turing – resurrected after 70 years."

British Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing receives Royal pardon


"I believe [Genius Group] is the 1st US public listed company to appoint an #AI to its C-Suite," he boasted.

The whole thing is a bad-taste marketing gimmick designed promote a white paper allegedly written by the eponymous chatbot in which Genius talks about "Preparing for a Post Turing Test World."

Disregarding the fact that the Turing Test has fallen out of favor as any kind of assessment of artificial intelligence, Genius calls its marketing pamphlet "a mind-blowing read with his new 'Super Turing Test' for AGI," according to the company.

What's mind-blowing is Genius Group's inability to stop and consider the dilemma: is it better to (a) use the image of a computing legend seemingly without permission, or (b) not do that terrible, ill-advised, awful thing.

They chose (a) obviously. Genius indeed.

Led by Grady Booch, a software engineer famed for developing the Unified Modeling Language, the social media reaction was swift and brutal.

"Absolute and complete trash. I hope that Turing's heirs sue you into oblivion," he said on the social media platform now calling itself X.

One intrepid Twitter user went so far as to discuss the wisdom of the decision with the Turing chatbot itself.

The response was that the choice "raises important ethical considerations, including respect for the individual's legacy, the wishes they may have expressed during their lifetime, and the feelings of their surviving family and members of the public."

But it didn't answer the question.

The point Genius Group is so wantonly missing is that Turing was a real person whose life meant something, both in terms of the history of computing and mathematics, but also in society.

In 2009, then-UK prime minister Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology to Turing on behalf of the government. Shortly before he took his own life in 1954, Turing was sentenced to chemical castration for being gay, which was illegal at the time.

That this legacy should be cheapened as a marketing trick speaks volumes about today's tech industry. Genius Group should be ashamed. It should remove the image, end the campaign, and apologize. ®

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