Alan Turing


The BBC has been running a series of articles on Turing.

For those of us who often discuss the conceptual aspects of liberty through the great works of social and political philosophy, we should stop and think about how our liberty was, to a great extent, preserved by Alan Turing.

According to Winston Churchill, Turing made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.

His pivotal role in cracking intercepted messages helped the Allies to defeat the Nazis in several crucial battles.

A Profile and the Turing us philosophers/cognitive scientists know through his “Computing machinery and intelligence”, Mind 50: 433-460.

I PROPOSE to consider the question, ‘Can machines think? ‘This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms’ machine’ and’ think’. The definitions might be framed so as to reflect so far as possible the normal use of the words, but this attitude is dangerous. If the meaning of the words ‘machine’ and  ‘think ‘ are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to the question, ‘Can machines think?’ is to be sought in a statistical survey such as a Gallup poll. But this is absurd. Instead of attempting such a definition I shall replace the question by another, which is closely related to it and is expressed in relatively unambiguous words.

PM’s Apology