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Backgrounder: Intelligent Machinery – A Heretical Theory

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Another backgrounder, this time from Alan Turing himself.   I'd almost like to turn this into required reading because it really ties everything else together, but you're probably already fatigued looking at the list (and the salon is in three days).

 In this passage, he seems to be actively arguing against the limited scope of the Turing Test.  I'd have to research the date of its publication - I'm wondering if it's entertaining opponents of the Turing Test as a measure of AI success, or whether its an earlier case for the possibility of true machine consciousness.    Nevertheless, it starts with a discussion of Gödel, who has sheared many a head, then establishes a model for machine learning, which resembles Stephen Wolfram’s (and De Landa’s) argument that complex behaviour like "thinking" can emerge through the iterative application of simple rules:

 

It is clearly possible to produce a machine which would give a very good account of itself for any range of tests, if the machine were made sufficiently elaborate. However, this again would hardly be considered an adequate proof. Such a machine would give itself away by making the same sort of mistake over and over again, and being quite unable to correct itself, or to be corrected by argument from outside. If the machine were able in some way to ‘learn by experience’ it would be much more impressive. If this were the case there seems to be no real reason why one should not start from a comparatively simple machine, and, by subjecting it to a suitable range of ‘experience’ transform it into one which was more elaborate, and was able to deal with a far greater range of contingencies. This process could probably be hastened by a suitable selection of the experiences to which it was subjected. This might be called ‘education’. But here we have to be careful. It would be quite easy to arrange the experiences in such a way that they automatically caused the structure of the machine to build up into a previously intended form, and this would obviously be a gross form of cheating, almost on a par with having a man inside the machine.

The passage even ends with a namecheck to Samuel Butler and Erewhon, where we'll begin this Thursday.