Ivy House, High St, Hampton

From the Notable Abodes website:

“Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (/ˈtjʊərɪŋ/; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and theoretical biologist. He was highly influential in the development of 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.

Whilst living here, from 1945-47, Turing worked on the design of the ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in nearby Teddington. He presented a paper on 19 February 1946, which was the first detailed design of a stored-program computer.”

Prof Noel Sharkey (Artificial Intelligence, University of Sheffield) wrote for the BBC News website on 21 June 2012:

“…Alan Turing was clearly a man ahead of his time. In 1950, at the dawn of computing, he was already grappling with the question: “Can machines think?”

This was at a time when the first general purpose computers had only just been built.

The term artificial intelligence had not even been coined. John McCarthy would come up with the term in 1956, two years after Alan Turing’s untimely death.

Yet his ideas proved both to have a profound influence over the new field of AI, and to cause a schism amongst its practitioners.

One of Turing’s lasting legacies to AI, and not necessarily a good one, is his approach to the problem of thinking machines.

He wrote: “I have no very convincing arguments of a positive nature to support my views.”

Instead, he turned the tables on those who might be sceptical about the idea of machines thinking, unleashing his formidable intellect on a range of possible objections, from religion to consciousness.

Turing outlined his AI experiment while working at the University of Manchester, where a memorial statue has since been erected

With so little known about where computing was heading at this time, the approach made sense. He asserted correctly that “conjectures are of great importance since they suggest useful lines of research”.

But 62 years on, now that we have advanced computers to test, it seems wrong that some proponents of AI still demand the onus be put on sceptics to prove the idea of an intelligent machine impossible.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell ridiculed this type of situation, likening it to asking a sceptic to disprove there is a china teapot revolving around the sun while insisting the teapot is too small to be revealed.

This can be seen as wrong-footing the scientific process of hypothesis testing and evidence collection.

In fact, Turing well understood the need for empirical evidence, proposing what has become known as the Turing Test to determine if a machine was capable of thinking. The test was an adaptation of a Victorian-style competition called the imitation game…”

NB: (The Imitation Game became the title of a 2014 American historical drama film directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore, based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges.)

Ed Catmull (President of Pixar Animation): Creativity, Inc. – overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration (2014):

“…The first organ transplants were performed in 1954; the first polio vaccine came a year later; in 1956, the term artificial intelligence entered the lexicon. The future, it seemed, was already here.

Then, when I was twelve, the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite – Sputnik 1 – into earth’s orbit. This was huge news, not just in the scientific and political realms but in my sixth grade classroom at school…”.

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