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Quotes by Alan Turing

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Alan Turing. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Alan Turing

Alan Mathison Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

Born in Maida Vale, London, Turing was raised in southern England. He graduated at King's College, Cambridge, with a degree in mathematics. Whilst he was a fellow at Cambridge, he published a proof demonstrating that some purely mathematical yes–no questions can never be answered by computation and defined a Turing machine, and went on to prove the halting problem for Turing machines is undecidable. In 1938, he obtained his PhD from the Department of Mathematics at Princeton University. During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre that produced Ultra intelligence. For a time he led Hut 8, the section that was responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. Here, he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Axis powers in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic.

After the war, Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948, Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Machine Laboratory, at the Victoria University of Manchester, where he helped develop the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis and predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, first observed in the 1960s. Despite these accomplishments, he was never fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime because much of his work was covered by the Official Secrets Act.

Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts. He accepted chemical castration treatment, with DES, as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as a suicide, but it has been noted that the known evidence is also consistent with accidental poisoning.

In 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way he was treated". Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013. The "Alan Turing law" is now an informal term for a 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts. Turing has an extensive legacy with statues of him and many things named after him, including an annual award for computer science innovations. He appears on the current Bank of England £50 note, which was released to coincide with his birthday. A 2019 BBC series, as voted by the audience, named him the greatest person of the 20th century.

Quote: If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.


Quote: Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible.


Quote: It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: The original question, 'Can machines think?' I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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


Quote: Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game.


Quote: Mathematical reasoning may be regarded. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Mathematical reasoning may be regarded.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of Alan Turing quote; white text on black background

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.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: Unless in communicating with it one says exactly what one means, trouble is bound to result. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Unless in communicating with it one says exactly what one means, trouble is bound to result.


Quote: A very large part of space-time must be investigated, if reliable results are to be obtained. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

A very large part of space-time must be investigated, if reliable results are to be obtained.




Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of Alan Turing quote; white text on black background

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.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: My little computer said such a funny thing this morning. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

My little computer said such a funny thing this morning.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.




Quote: Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child's? If this were then subjected to an appropriate course of education one would obtain the adult brain. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child's? If this were then subjected to an appropriate course of education one would obtain the adult brain.


Quote: No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.


Quote: If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.


Quote: Programming is a skill best acquired by practice and example rather than from books. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Programming is a skill best acquired by practice and example rather than from books.


Quote: A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard.


Quote: Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.


Quote: I have had a dream indicating rather clearly that I am on the way to being hetero, though I don't accept it with much enthusiasm either awake or in the dreams. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

I have had a dream indicating rather clearly that I am on the way to being hetero, though I don't accept it with much enthusiasm either awake or in the dreams.


Quote: We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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


Quote: We are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency of cold porridge. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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


Quote: Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.

Longer Version/[Notes]:

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.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: 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. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

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.


Quote: A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.


Quote: Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.


Quote: I want a permanent relationship, and I might feel inclined to reject anything which of its nature could not be permanent. by author Alan Turing overlaid on photo of photo of author Alan Turing with quote

I want a permanent relationship, and I might feel inclined to reject anything which of its nature could not be permanent.


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