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Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
Alan Turing
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Alan Turing


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These slides accompany a lecture in New Media at Montana Tech.

These slides accompany a lecture in New Media at Montana Tech.

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  • 1. Alan Turing “ Computing Machinery and Intelligence” – Referencing The New Media Reader, Wardrip-Fruin & Montfort
  • 2. About Alan Turing. 1912 - 1954
    • Turing was a thinker, a dreamer, and a visionary.
    • Remembered as the founder of the field of Computer Science.
    • His work was pivotal in the defeat of Nazi Germany. He helped crack the enigma code.
    • His explorations of artificial intelligence have had longterm implications in philosophy, especially philosophy of computing.
  • 3. “ Computing Machinery and Intelligence”
    • Originally published in Mind: A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy in October 1950.
    • Turing offered it to philosophers who read the journal Mind rather than to computer scientists, as a way of challenging their notion of intelligence.
    • This essay sets forth “The Turing Test” where the question is: can a computer, communicating over a teleprinter, fool a person into believing it is human?
  • 4. The “Imitation Game”
    • The Imitation Game is played with three people; a Man (A), a Woman (B), and an Interrogator (C) who may be of either sex. The Interrogator stays in a room apart from the other two.
    • The Object of the game for the Interrogator is to determine which of the other two, X or Y, is the man and which is the woman.
    • Interrogator knows other players as X and Y.
  • 5. The “Imitation Game”
    • The interrogator is limited to using the responses to written (telecommunicated) questions in order to make the determination, such as: C: “Will X please tell me the length of his or her hair.”
    • The object for the third player (B) is to help the Interrogator.
    • Philosophical question emerges: What will happen when a machine takes the part of A in this game? The machine must be a digital computer. Ergo … “Can Machines Think?”
  • 6. Digital Computers
    • A digital computer can be regarded as consisting of i) store, ii) executive unit, iii) control. (See pg 52). A human computer is a person.
    • The reader must accept it as a fact that digital computers can be constructed, and indeed have been constructed according to these principles and they can mimic the action of a human computer closely.
    • If one wants to make a machine mimic the behaviour of the human computer, one must “program” instructional tables to carry out operations.
  • 7. Charles Babbage
    • Turing reminds us that Babbage , Math Prof at Cambridge from 1828 to 1839, planned “The Analytical Engine” an early digital computer.
    • The fact that Babbage’s Analytical Machine was to be entirely mechanical helps get rid, in Turing’s words, of a superstition that electricity is vital in digital computation. (see pg. 53)
    • In 1991, a perfectly functioning difference engine (automatic, mechanical calculator) was constructed from Babbage's original plans.
  • 8. Philosophically Contrary Views (Arguments) on “Can Machines Think”
    • The Theological Objection. Thinking is a function of man’s immortal soul. God has given and immortal soul to everyone but not to machines. Hence no machine can think.
    • Heads in Sand Objection. The consequences of machines thinking would be too dreadful. Let us hope and believe they cannot do so.
    • Mathematical Objection. Unlike human intellect, there is a limit to the number of mathematical results.
    • Argument from Consciousness. Speaks to thoughts and emotions felt. (See page 56, Lister Oration).
  • 9. Philosophically Contrary Views (Arguments) on “Can Machines Think”
    • Arguments from Various Disabilities. This takes the form, “I grant you that you can make machines do all the things you have mentioned but you will never be able to make one do X. (Be kind, resourceful, beautiful… pg 57.)
    • Lady Lovelace’s Objective. An analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. Ie A machine can never take us by surprise and can only do what we tell it to.
    • Argument from Continuity in the Nervous System. One cannot expect to mimic the behaviour of the nervous system with a discrete-state system.
  • 10. Philosophically Contrary Views (Arguments) on “Can Machines Think”
    • Argument from Informality of Behaviour. It is not possible to produce a set of rules purporting to describe what a man should do in every conceivable set of circumstances.
    • Argument from Extra-Sensory Perception. Turing thought this argument was a strong one. Since, he thought, the statistical evidence for telepathy is overwhelming, if, in the imitation game one uses a telepathic man as an Interrogator, the machine could not possibly do as well.
  • 11. Final Thoughts
    • Ends with a question – this work produces a hypothesis as an outcome rather than being predictive.
    • “ We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields. But which are the best ones to start with?
    • Soon after this paper appeared, Turing, whose codebreaking help may have been decisive in England’s success against the Nazis, was arrested for homosexuality and was sentenced to regular injections of estrogen. He took his own life shortly after at 41 years of age.