Alan Turing Quotes

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All quotes by Alan Turing: Computers Imitation Mathematics more...
  • My little computer said such a funny thing this morning.

  • We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields. But which are the best ones to start with? Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English.

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

  • Instruction tables will have to be made up by mathematicians with computing experience and perhaps a certain puzzle-solving ability. There need be no real danger of it ever becoming a drudge, for any processes that are quite mechanical may be turned over to the machine itself.

    Real   Needs   Machines  
    B. E. Carpenter, Alan Mathison Turing, Michael Woodger (1986). “A.M. Turing's ACE report of 1946 and other papers”, The MIT Press
  • A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.

    "Computing Machinery and Intelligence". Book by Alan Turing, 1950.
  • 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.

    "Computing Machinery and Intelligence". Mind - A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy, Volume 59, No. 236, p. 442, 1950.
  • We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.

  • Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying. But remove the satisfaction, and the act becomes hollow.

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

    Alan Mathison Turing, B. J. Copeland (2004). “The Essential Turing”, p.477, Oxford University Press
  • Programming is a skill best acquired by practice and example rather than from books.

    Book   Practice   Skills  
  • Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.

    Epigram to Robin Gandy, 1954. "Alan Turing: The Enigma". Book by Andrew Hodges, p. 513, 1992.
  • 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.

    Quoted in Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma of Intelligence (1983)
  • In attempting to construct such (artificially intelligent) machines we should not be irreverently usurping His (God's) power of creating souls, any more than we are in the procreation of children,” Turing had advised. “Rather we are, in either case, instruments of His will providing mansions for the souls that He creates.

  • One day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other, "My little computer said such a funny thing this morning".

  • I'm afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future. Turing believes machines think Turing lies with men Therefore machines do not think Yours in distress, Alan

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

    Travel   Distance   Needs  
    Alan Mathison Turing, B. J. Copeland (2004). “The Essential Turing”, p.463, Oxford University Press
  • If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.

    Alan Mathison Turing, B. J. Copeland (2004). “The Essential Turing”, p.394, Oxford University Press
  • These disturbing phenomena [Extra Sensory Perception] seem to deny all our scientific ideas. How we should like to discredit them! Unfortunately the statistical evidence, at least for telepathy, is overwhelming.

  • Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.

    "Computing Machinery and Intelligence". Mind - A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy, Volume 59, No. 236, p. 450, 1950.
  • 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.

    Ideas   Machines   Done  
    "Computing Machinery and Intelligence". Mind - A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy, Volume 59, No. 236, p. 436, 1950.
  • A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine.

    "Intelligent Machinery: A Report by A. M. Turing". Submitted to the National Physical Laboratory in 1948. "Key Papers: Cybernetics". Book edited by C. R. Evans and A. D. J. Robertson, 1968.
  • Mathematical reasoning may be regarded.

    Alan Mathison Turing, B. J. Copeland (2004). “The Essential Turing”, p.192, Oxford University Press
  • Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity. The activity of the intuition consists in making spontaneous judgements which are not the result of conscious trains of reasoning. The exercise of ingenuity in mathematics consists in aiding the intuition through suitable arrangements of propositions, and perhaps geometrical figures or drawings.

    Exercise   Two   Drawing  
    "Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals". Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, Series 2, Volume 45, 1939.
  • Bell Labs Cafeteria, New York, 1943: His high pitched voice already stood out above the general murmur of well-behaved junior executives grooming themselves for promotion within the Bell corporation. Then he was suddenly heard to say: "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."

    "Alan Turing: The Enigma". Book by Andrew Hodges, p. 251, 1983.
  • Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game.

    Games   Imitation   Code  
  • 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.

  • 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. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, 'And the sun stood still... and hasted not to go down about a whole day' (Joshua x. 13) and 'He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time' (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory.

    Moving   Past   Support  
    Alan Mathison Turing, B. J. Copeland (2004). “The Essential Turing”, p.450, Oxford University Press
  • There is, however, one feature that I would like to suggest should be incorporated in the machines, and that is a 'random element.' Each machine should be supplied with a tape bearing a random series of figures, e.g., 0 and 1 in equal quantities, and this series of figures should be used in the choices made by the machine. This would result in the behaviour of the machine not being by any means completely determined by the experiences to which it was subjected, and would have some valuable uses when one was experimenting with it.

    Art   Mean   Choices Made  
  • 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.

    Epigram to Robin Gandy in 1954. "Alan Turing: The Enigma". Book by Andrew Hodges, p. 513, 1992.
  • Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.

    "Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals". Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, Series 2, Volume 45, 1939.
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    Alan Turing quotes about: Computers Imitation Mathematics

    Alan Turing

    • Born: June 23, 1912
    • Died: June 7, 1954
    • Occupation: Mathematician