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Dystopia or utopia? Alan Turing's Promethean ambition about intelligent machines

Gonçalves, Bernardo (2020) Dystopia or utopia? Alan Turing's Promethean ambition about intelligent machines. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Writing in 1948, Turing felt compelled to confront a ``religious belief'' that ``any attempt'' to construct intelligent machines was seen ``a sort of Promethean irreverence.'' And yet he has been associated by his own biographer Andrew Hodges with the image of ``a Frankenstein --- the proud irresponsibility of pure science, concentrated in a single person.'' Reader of a 1865 version of Samuel Butler's \emph{Darwin among the machines}, Turing challenged the conventional wisdom of what machines really were or could be and prophesized a future pervaded by intelligent machines which may be seen as a dystopia or as a utopia. The question is thus posed: what future did Turing actually envision and propose to machines? I will formulate and study the problem of identifying Turing’s specific Promethean ambition about intelligent machines. I shall suggest that Turing's primary aim was the development of mechanistic explanations of the human mindbrain. But his secondary aim, implied in irony and wit, was the delivery of a social criticism about gender, race, nation and species chauvinisms. Turing's association with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein will be discouraged. Rather, his third aim was to send a precautionary message about the possibility of machines outstripping us in intellectual power in the future.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gonçalves, Bernardobegoncalves@usp.br0000-0003-2794-8478
Keywords: Alan Turing, Machine intelligence, Dystopia, Utopia, Modern Prometheus, Future of artificial intelligence
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > History of Philosophy
Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dr. Bernardo Gonçalves
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2021 18:56
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2021 18:56
Item ID: 18566
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > History of Philosophy
Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 31 December 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18566

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