Board Games

Inhuman Conditions

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Inhuman Conditions is a new board game loosely based on the idea of the Turing test—a way to evaluate a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior, devised by codebreaker and mathematician Alan Turing in 1950.

In the game, one player is assigned the role of either robot or human. The other is an investigator attempting to figure out whether his or her opponent is a robot through conversation. The result is a surprisingly goofy romp in which humans pretend to be robots pretending to be humans.

As with many of the entrants in today's tabletop gaming renaissance, making it to the initial round of play requires some upfront investment of time and brainpower. But once you get into the groove, the natural logic of the game's structure emerges, and there are just enough gimmicks—including actual inked stamps with which the investigators make their final pronouncements—to keep play light.

The robots in the game are so quirky (and even violent) that a deadpan affect won't do you much good. The best strategy to appear human, it seems, is to be emotionally volatile, deeply awkward, and occasionally irrational.

NEXT: Brickbat: That Will Never Work

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  1. The result is a surprisingly goofy romp in which humans pretend to be robots pretending to be humans.

    Or as we call it, the Reason commentariat.

    1. You mean all those claims of making money at home to buy fancy cars aren’t from people?

      1. I mean FoE is actually a finely tuned algorithm developed by ENB.

        1. That would certainly explain why all the Fist of Etiquette jokes are NP-hard to understand.

        2. If ENB could develop algorithms, she wouldn’t be working for a third rate publication like this.

  2. Hmm, can the game also detect levels of human stupidity too low to be allowed out in public?

  3. Just for the rest of the story:
    This new game was released in 2018.
    It is for ages 12 and up.
    It has a 5 minute playing time.
    It has a complexity rating of 1.75 out of 5 on Boardgamegeek.
    As an example of one of the cards involved; I quote “Did the other person thought the conversation went well or badly?”

    A few comments from the publisher:
    From the co-creators of Secret Hitler & Better Myths: a Blade Runner-inspired, five-minute party game for two players.
    There are no right or wrong answers, only suspicious and innocuous ones, and one slip of the tongue could land Humans and Robots alike in the Bureau’s Invasive Confirmation Unit. There, alongside Investigators who make improper determinations, they will await further testing …

    It all sounds a bit too familiar to me. Yesterday’s headlines for instance.

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  5. Does the game have panzers in it? No? Not interested.

    1. Ich liebe Panzer.

  6. The best strategy to appear human, it seems, is to be emotionally volatile, deeply awkward, and occasionally irrational.

    “Reason” commenters will be unbeatable.

  7. I always questioned the Turing Test method of weeding out replicants in Blade Runner. If they were androids, there would be much simpler and direct ways to find out, such as doing an X-ray. If they were fully organic, i.e., clones, then they’d be just as human as anyone else. A clone is no less a real human being than someone’s identical twin would be.

    1. If they were fully organic, i.e., clones, then they’d be just as human as anyone else.

      You’re getting caught up in a ‘artificial/natural’ divide that is, ironically, completely artificial. Because there is no such divide in nature.

      A ‘living’ organism is a machine – the parts are just on a molecular scale.

      You’re also ignoring the main question of the movie – what is ‘human’? What is ‘a person’? Because the replicants are completely man-made, are self-aware – but are deemed to be ‘not people’ because of their differing mental architecture. Which is what the VK test is intended to root out.

      But the movie handwaves away any issues of testing genes or looking for other structural clues in order to be able to focus on the ‘what is a a people’ question that forms the core of the movie.

      1. To be clear – they’re not clones of a person. They’re designer organisms.

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