Turing, Alan

Alan Turing
Image from Rachel Bowers

Late Industrial/early Atomic Age British mathematician and computer theorist, 57 to 15 BT(1912 - 1954 c.e.); one of the fathers of artificial intelligence and computing.

During World War II he was instrumental in deciphering German messages encrypted by the Enigma cipher machine. After the war, he helped design computers, first for the British government and then the University of Manchester. During this period, he produced a body of work that helped form the basis of the newly emerging field of artificial intelligence; including the Turing test and the Turing Machine. He was arrested for homosexuality (still illegal at this time) and committed suicide shortly after. He is revered as an avatar, exemplar, or founder by some ai and cyborg clades.

Worlds that have been named after Alan Turing include the TRHN system at Castor and the Metasoft world Church-Turing.

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    Turing's proposed test for whether a machine is conscious (or intelligent, or aware): the subject communicates via text with the machine and with a hidden human. If the subject cannot tell which of their partners in the dialog is the human, then the computer is conscious (i.e. is an AI). Turing did not specify many key details, such as the duration of the interrogation and the sophistication of the human judge and foils. By the middle Information Age, computer AIs were regularly passing the test, although its validity remained a point of controversy and philosophical debate for some decades more.
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 09 January 2002.