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What’s in a thought experiment: the role of gender in Alan Turing’s progressive imitation game

Gonçalves, Bernardo (2021) What’s in a thought experiment: the role of gender in Alan Turing’s progressive imitation game. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Turing proposed in 1950 his famous imitation game or test: a machine is supposed to imitate, sometimes a woman, sometimes a man. In 1995 scientists in artificial intelligence complained that, according to Turing, the goal of the field should be to build a ``mechanical transvestite.'' Supporters of Turing's test as a decisive experiment for machine intelligence then suggested to read ``man'' in Turing's text as masculine generics. Drawing also from primary sources other than Turing's 1950 text, they argued that Turing must have proposed not a gender, but a species test. My contention is that Turing did propose gender learning and imitation as one of his various tests for machine intelligence. I shall reconstruct the context of Turing's 1950 proposal and point out that it came out of a 1949 controversy, notably with neurosurgeon Geoffrey Jefferson. I will then try to show that Turing designed his imitation game as a thought experiment to refute, among other things, an \emph{a priori} view of Jefferson that intelligence was an exclusive feature of the animal nervous system, and that interesting behavior in the male and the female was largely determined by sex hormones.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gonçalves, Bernardobegoncalves@usp.br0000-0003-2794-8478
Keywords: Alan Turing; Thought experiment; Turing-Jefferson controversy; Artificial intelligence; Gender and species diversity;
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Dr. Bernardo Gonçalves
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2021 01:49
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2021 01:49
Item ID: 18718
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 16 February 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18718

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