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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Alan Turing and artificial intelligence


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


Alan Turing (1912-1954) was an English computer scientist and mathematician best known for contributions to computers and artificial intelligence. Philosopher Jerry Fodor said,


"Beyond any doubt, the most important thing that has happened in cognitive science was Turing invention of the notion of mechanical rationality." (The Trouble with Psychological Darwinism, 1998)


Mathematician James Wilkinson said,


"Turing had a strong predilection for working things out from first principles, usually in the first instance without consulting any previous work on the subject, and no doubt it was this habit which gave his work that characteristically original flavor." (Some Comments from a Numerical Analyst, 1970)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Turing.


Artificial intelligence


"If one wants to make a machine mimic the behaviour of the human computer in some complex operation one has to ask him how it is done, and then translate the answer into the form of an instruction table. Constructing instruction tables is usually described as 'programming'." (Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950)


"We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields. But which are the best ones to start with? Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English." (


"It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers... They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. As some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control." (


"I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted." (Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950)


Turing test


"A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human." (




"Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity... The exercise of ingenuity in mathematics consists in aiding the intuition through suitable arrangements of propositions, and perhaps geometrical figures or drawings." (System of Logic Based on Ordinals, 1938)


"...we are regarding the function of the mathematician as simply to determine the truth or falsity of propositions." (System of Logic Based on Ordinals, 1938)