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Quotes of the day: Alan Turing

Published Monday, June 23, 2014 @ 6:36 AM EDT
Jun 23 2014

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954) was a British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. Turing is widely considered as the "Father of Theoretical Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


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

A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine.

A very large part of space-time must be investigated, if reliable results are to be obtained.

Conjectures are of great importance since they suggest useful lines of research.

Electronic computers are intended to carry out any definite rule of thumb process which could have been done by a human operator working in a disciplined but unintelligent manner.

I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past.

I believe that at the end of the (20th) 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.

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. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.

Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.

Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.

No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I'm after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.

The Exclusion Principle is laid down purely for the benefit of the electrons themselves, who might be corrupted (and become dragons or demons) if allowed to associate too freely.

The idea behind digital computers may be explained by saying that these machines are intended to carry out any operations which could be done by a human computer.

The original question, 'Can machines think?' I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.

Unless in communicating with it one says exactly what one means, trouble is bound to result.

We are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency of cold porridge.

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.

We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.

Categories: Alan Turing, Quotes of the day


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