1st Edition

The Turing Test Argument

By Bernardo Gonçalves Copyright 2024
    238 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book departs from existing accounts of Alan Turing's imitation game and test by placing Turing's proposal in its historical, social, and cultural context.

    It reconstructs a controversy in England, 1946–1952, over the intellectual capabilities of digital computers, which led Turing to propose his test. It argues that the Turing test is best understood not as a practical experiment, but as a thought experiment in the modern scientific tradition of Galileo Galilei. The logic of the Turing test argument is reconstructed from the rhetoric of Turing’s irony and wit. Turing believed that learning machines should be understood as a new kind of species, and their thinking as different from human thinking and yet capable of imitating it. He thought that the possibilities of the machines he envisioned were not utopian dreams. And yet he hoped that they would rival and surpass chauvinists and intellectuals who sacrifice independent thinking to maintain their power. These would be transformed into ordinary people, as work once considered 'intellectual' would be transformed into non-intellectual, 'mechanical' work.

    The Turing Test Argument will appeal to scholars and students in the sciences and humanities and all those interested in Turing's vision of the future of intelligent machines in society and nature.

    1. Introduction

    2. Reception History, 19502020

    3. Turing’s Imitation Principle

    4. The Controversy that Led to the Turing Test

    5. The Turing Test Is a Thought Experiment

    6. Galilean Resonances

    7. Irony with a Point

    8. Conclusion


    Bernardo Gonçalves is a visiting fellow at King's College, University of Cambridge, and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of São Paulo. His research focuses on Alan Turing and the future of machines in society and nature. He holds Ph.D. degrees in Philosophy and in Computational Modeling.