The Turing Test and Philosophical Questions

A mathematical concept

The Turing machines are an abstraction of computers,  invented by Alan Turing (1912 – 1954) in 1936 to serve as the ideal model in the mathematical calculation. By extension, all modern computers are designed on the principle of operation. The control part is the microprocessor. An essential element is that the number of states is finite. This takes into account that microprocessors have a fixed number of records. The band represents the computer’s memory. This includes the main memory and the external memory such as hard drives. Unlike a computer, the memory of a Turing machine is infinite. This takes into account that we can add hard drives to a computer to (almost) infinite. Another difference between a Turing machine and a computer is that the computer can access memory directlywhile the read head of the Turing machine that moves from one position to each operation .

The Turing Test

The Turing Test consists in questioning somenone without to see him and you should tell with certainty if your interlocutor is a human or a machine.

Turing predicted that computers would one day be able to pass the test. In fact, he estimated that by 2000 machines with 128 MB of memory would be able to fool 30% of human judges in a test of 5 minutes. He predicted that humans at this point, would not see the term “intelligent machine” as contradictory.

Turing Test & Philosophical problems

So beyond mathematics, Turing wanted to answer this question : Can a machine think ?

This assertion has many objection, anticipated by Turing himself:

Theological Objection:  man would have an innate soul, and so the machine can not not think without a soul. Turing replies that he sees no reason why God could not give a soul to a computer if desired.
Argument of consciousness: the argument suggested by Professor Geoffrey Jefferson said that “no machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of the lack of emotion. Turing’s answer is that we have no way of knowing truly experience the emotions of other individuals than oneself, and therefore we should accept the test.
Originality: another objection, very controversial, is that computers are incapable of originality. Turing said that computers can surprise people, especially when the consequences of different facts are not immediately recognizable.
Formalism: this argument says that every system governed by laws can be predictable and not really intelligent. Turing replies that this is to confuse the laws of behavior with the general rules of conduct.

Cite this article as: Tim, "The Turing Test and Philosophical Questions, April 28, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, April 28, 2012,

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