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Can machines think? The controversy that led to the Turing test, 1946-1950

Gonçalves, Bernardo (2021) Can machines think? The controversy that led to the Turing test, 1946-1950. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Turing’s much debated test has turned 70 and is still fairly controversial. His 1950 paper is seen as a complex and multi-layered text and key questions remain largely unanswered. Why did Turing choose learning from experience as best approach to achieve machine intelligence? Why did he spend several years working with chess-playing as a task to illustrate and test for machine intelligence only to trade it off for conversational question-answering later in 1950? Why did Turing refer to gender imitation in a test for machine intelligence? In this article I shall address these questions directly by unveiling social, historical and epistemological roots of the so-called Turing test. I will draw attention to a historical fact that has been scarcely observed in the secondary literature so far, namely, that Turing's 1950 test came out of a controversy over the cognitive capabilities of digital computers, most notably with physicist and computer pioneer Douglas Hartree, chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi, and neurosurgeon Geoffrey Jefferson. Seen from its historical context, Turing’s 1950 paper can be understood as essentially a reply to a series of challenges posed to him by these thinkers against his view that machines can think.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gonçalves, Bernardobegoncalves@usp.br0000-0003-2794-8478
Keywords: Alan Turing, Can machines think?, The imitation game, The Turing test, Mind-machine controversy, History of artificial intelligence.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > History of Philosophy
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > Science and Society
Depositing User: Dr. Bernardo Gonçalves
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2021 17:43
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2021 17:43
Item ID: 19291
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > History of Philosophy
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Specific Sciences > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > Science and Society
Date: 6 July 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19291

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