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. I believe further that no useful purpose is served by concealing these beliefs.

from Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950)

Portrait of Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Mathematician, Computer Scientist, and Cryptanalyst
June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954

Alan Mathison Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. He is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

Turing graduated at King’s College, Cambridge, with a degree in mathematics. Whilst he was a fellow at Cambridge, he published a proof demonstrating that some purely mathematical yes–no questions can never be answered by computation and defined a Turing machine. During the Second World War, he worked for the Government Code and Cypher School, Britain's codebreaking centre. Here, he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers, and played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Axis powers in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic.

After the war, Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the Automatic Computing Engine, one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948, Turing joined Max Newman’s Computing Machine Laboratory, where he helped develop the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis and predicted oscillating chemical reactions, first observed in the 1960s. Despite these accomplishments, Turing was never fully recognised in Britain during his lifetime because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.

Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts. He accepted hormone treatment with DES, a procedure commonly referred to as chemical castration, as an alternative to prison. Turing died on 7 June 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as a suicide, but it has been noted that the known evidence is also consistent with accidental poisoning. Following a public campaign in 2009, the British Prime Minister made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way [Turing] was treated.” Queen Elizabeth II granted a posthumous pardon in 2013.

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Mentioned in 4 documents

David Chalmers

Could a Large Language Model be Conscious?

Within the next decade, we may well have systems that are serious candidates for consciousness. An edited version of a talk given at the conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), with some minor additions and subtractions.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy

General System Theory

In his seminal work, biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy outlines a theory of systems that breaks down disciplinary boundaries and argues that there are general principles and laws applicable to systems of all kinds. He contends that phenomena should be viewed not in isolation but as components of systems interacting with their environments. Bertalanffy proposes that there are commonalities across biological, physical, and social systems that can be explored through systems thinking. He suggests the need for an overarching systems science to uncover these universal system principles. The book develops key concepts like open and closed systems, steady states, growth, feedback, homeostasis, differentiation, hierarchy, and emergence. General System Theory was groundbreaking in its interdisciplinary approach and helped foster the growth of systems theory across academia and society.

Hans Moravec

Simulation, Consciousness, Existence

Like organisms evolved in gentle tide pools, who migrate to freezing oceans or steaming jungles by developing metabolisms, mechanisms, and behaviors workable in those harsher and vaster environments, our descendants, able to change their representations at will, may develop means to venture far from the comfortable realms we consider reality into arbitrarily strange worlds. Their techniques will be as meaningless to us as bicycles are to fish, but perhaps we can stretch our common-sense-hobbled imaginations enough to peer a short distance into this odd territory.

Marvin Minsky

The Society of Mind

Marvin Minsky (one of the fathers of computer science and cofounder of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT) gives a revolutionary answer to the age-old question: How does the mind work? Minsky brilliantly portrays the mind as a 'society' of tiny components that are themselves mindless. Mirroring his theory, Minsky boldly casts The Society of Mind as an intellectual puzzle whose pieces are assembled along the way. Each chapter, presented on a self-contained page, corresponds to a piece in the puzzle. As the pages turn, a unified theory of the mind emerges, like a mosaic. Ingenious, amusing, and easy to read, The Society of Mind is an adventure in imagination.