Alan Turing was the first to boldly ask the question of whether machines can think. He left an indelible mark on the foundations of computer science, artificial intelligence, cryptography, and impacted other areas of science. He was openly homosexual in an era in which it was still a punishable offence. Alan Turing, called a discrete hero, contributed to the Allied victory in World War II in the crucial battle of the Atlantic. However, due to the nature of his work he was not credited until twenty years after his death when state secrets were revealed. During Turing’s brief and tumultuous life he experienced both the sweetness and bitterness of the twentieth century post-colonial British Empire. His insights and achievements greatly influenced the world we live in today, but a world in which he found no sympathy.
A young mind is cultivated
Alan Mathison Turing was born in London on June 23rd 1912. He was the son of an Indian Civil Service officer and a member an old aristocratic family. Class affiliation determined the education of the young Turing who was put through a private school, the strongest and most enduring bastion of class segregation in England. In private schools the young gentlemen were classically educated and more importantly taught the rituals and manners of the ruling class. Turing was not interested or ambitious enough to meet his educational requirements. His passion geared toward Einstein’s theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, and chemical experiments in the laboratory. One of his teachers’ noted: “… He is not well suited to mathematics. He spends considerable time on research in higher mathematics, however he neglects the basics. His work has been irregular. It is impossible to simultaneously sit on two chairs. If you want to stay in a private school, must strive to become educated. If you want to be the only specialist in science, then your time is lost at a private school.” It is quite possible that his scientific research would have remained at the level of an eccentric hobbies if it was not for an unexpected impetus: a tragic love. Turing fell in love with Christopher Morkom, a young man with whom he shared a common interest in science. Turing was introverted and Morkom help him out of his shell that had kept him in self-imposed isolation from the outside world. But the boom was short-lived due to unfortunate Morkom’s unfortunate sudden death in 1930, a result of tuberculosis. Turing was filled with grief, but with that stoked his philosophical gift with new urgency. Research in the field of quantum physics led him to observe: “When we deal with atoms and electrons, we are in no position to know their exact condition because our instruments are made of atoms and electrons, too. The illusion of knowing the exact state of the universe may be possible when torn down to the micro level. That means to break down the theory that our actions are predestined.” In the same essay he noted, “When the body dies, the mechanism of the body holding a spirit disappears, and the spirit finds a new body sooner or later, maybe even now.” Struggling with personal pain, Turing offered his views on relations between determinism and free will, the classic paradox.
Turing then began his college studies at King’s Colledge, Cambridge, an environment where his unconventional, both in terms of sexual orientation, as well as access to mathematical thinking was encouraged. There he developed a tendency for a long running, self-confidence in science and society, as well as a somewhat noble personality. He was twenty-two when he graduated from college. He decided to stay on as a research associate. Lectures on topology of his thinking were directed toward the problems of mathematical logic. When he attempted to address the problem, which was previously formulated by the mathematician David Hilbert, he wrote an article about computable numbers, with an application to the decision problem. Hilbert posed the question of whether the issue could be resolved by selecting decidability of the binary opposition of “yes” or “no”. In other words, ” Is there an algorithm by which it can decide whether it is valid no matter which formula is in first order? “. Turing reformulated the problem of the logical sphere into the sphere of numbers. The decidability problem becomes how to determine the infinite through the finite, then the problem is not solved by proving calculation. This set solves the problem by introducing the concept of the-machine (later called Turing’s machine) which is called the computer. During this period, the term “computer” still meant a person who deals with computation operations, mostly a job for women. The image of the scientist’s in when he introduced the term “computer” is probably similar to factory workers in the industrial era of capitalism, sitting and performing a calculation in accordance with a given algorithm. Turing, therefore, takes the human mind as a model for his computer. Simulating the mental processes created Turing’s trail, a device that manipulates symbols recorded on an endless tape in the way that deletes or printed symbols or moves the tape one square left or right, so that at one point it has only one symbol. From arithmetic operations with these symbols, the machine can perform a particular behaviour in the table. Turing later conceived a universal machine that could perform the action of any other Turing machine. Turing’s machine was an abstract machine, a theoretical model in the service of a thought experiment, and its construction was not provided, although witnesses say that Turing thought about it. This machine was primarily Alan Turing trying to solve a problem in the field of mathematical logic using non-mathematical means. He showed a negative answer to the decision problem, there is no evidence that the machines with the algorithm for calculating indefinitely large number of his work ever stop. However, unless you solve the question posed by Hilbert, Turing in his article “On computable numbers” and set the basic principles of operation of the computer, not just abstract, but also of what we use today.
Bletchley Park Enigma
A sequence of events led Turing to leave the theoretical Garden of Eden return to the cruel practice field. Indeed, the world outside the cheerful green fields of England in late 30s was a place with terrifying premonition of things to come. Turing, a pacifist, decided to lend himself to the service in war campaign against the emerging Nazi threat. By the end of 1938 he began working on a problem facing the British intelligence, a machine named, “Enigma”. Enigma was used by German naval forces to communicate between submarines that operated in the Atlantic. It was an electromechanic machine that was designed to encrypt messages. The system consisted of three reels and contact table with switches. The basic principle of operation was based on the substitution of characters, which used two different algorithms, mapping, and arithmetic substitution. Each of these algorithms alone would not pose a problem for decoding, but in this configuration, the number of possible combinations was greatly extended. The decoding solution required unprecedented but, thanks Turing’s theoretical work, not inconceivable electronic performance speed computing. The secret wartime residence of the British crypto-analysts was the Bletchley Park Estate in the heart of England. It was a place in which Alan Turing spent much of the war years. His final contribution to the success lay in deciphering Enigma in the draft of “bomb”, a machine used for the analysis of encrypted communications. The Bomb was used as a setting for discovery of “Enigma”, indicating the exact position of the rotor and electronic logic circuits that were in use. Turing’s cryptoanalytic work on solving the problem resulted in the construction of one of the first large electronic computing apparatuses, “Colossus”. This was a construct of scrambling equipment for voice messages and the foundation of information theory as a scientific discipline. In that time the most important result was the victory of the war and the method he provided helped to decode the secret German communications. It would be an exaggeration to say that without his contribution the outcome of the war would be different, but even the most conservative estimates agree that the decryption information related to “Enigma” shortened the war by at least one year.
Machines that think
After the war, Turing worked on the construction of ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), but was soon disappointed because of bureaucratic obstacles and intelligence that slowed the project down. In 1950 he went to Manchester, then a gloomy industrial city, to join a project centered around a small computer aptly named, baby. The Baby was a machine in which, for the first time, implemented the new cathode ray tube technology. It is difficult to imagine that this device designed with strange pipes and able to show numbers with luminous dots in the network and a resolution of 32 × 32 had anything in common with CRT monitors of today. Turing and his associates used “Baby” to solve some of the most famous mathematical problems. Working on the machine itself was complicated, arduous and often futile because the operating procedure,which included running from one room to another in order to printout, resulted in leaving too much room for error. However, the project was soon the focus of public interest, in part because of a sharp attack by a neurosurgeon and a proponent of the lobotomy, probably jealous because of the funds received for the Baby project. He stated: “As long as the machine is not able to write a sonnet or compose a concert inspired by thoughts and feelings, rather than display a random sequence of symbols, we can not agree that it can match the human brain.” This public statement tossed the ball back in the court Turing’s was repeatedly found, the field of relation between consciousness and machinery. Turing’s response, simultaneously funny and sharp, would determine the direction of his future research. In a radio broadcast he said: “We are not interested in a brain with the consistency of cold porridge. We do not want to say, This machine is very solid, this is not the brain, therefore, it can not think.” Turing correctly argued that the characteristics of the brain are not relevant to the opinion of the level of physical properties. In direct response to the neurosurgeon he concluded that “you can not draw a parallel to sonnets, as they would write a sonnet which the machine best knew how to appreciate.” Shortly after the controversy that still could only be held in the realm of popular science, Turing wrote his most famous and most unusual work “Computers and Intelligence”, in which he dealt with artificial intelligence. He proposed an experiment, later called Turing’s Test, which would arrive at the answer to the question “Can machines think?”. The experiment would take form using what Turing called the imitation game. The game involved three participants, a man, woman and the examiner. Each was located in a separate room. All communication was to be done in writing, preferably by teleprinter. The examiner’s goal was to determine which one responded. The male participant was tasked to answer the examiner the wrong way and force him to conclude the female. A female interviewer helps the male. He later replaced the fundamental question with “Can a machine win the imitation game? “. In fact, Turing argued that in the foreseeable future it will be possible to design a machine that will play in imitation with a fair chance of beating the human player. Turing recognized the ability of the human mind to learn and self-organize a critical thinking process for establishing and defining the man just as “the machine impacted by outside influence”. There arises the problem of interface, ie. The system of artificial intelligence that will communicate with the outside world. This was the problem for which Turing had no satisfactory solution. Turing suggested that, instead of trying to construct a program that mimics the adult human consciousness, it would be better to construct a program that will mimic the child’s awareness with the ability to learn. This, somewhat bizarre section, attests that Turing was aware of practical problems: “We will not be able to apply the same learning process on the machine as a normal child. It will not have feet or… may not have any eyes. But no matter what weaknesses it might compensate with clever engineering, we can not send this creature to school, and have other children not mock it. It must have private lessons. “What is fascinating was Turing’s ability to address personal concerns with a universal solution to problems. We read earlier that his pain was due to the loss of Christopher Morkom which led young Turing to think about free will. Perhaps we can assume that his reflection on the machine was a desire to prove their cognitive ability to give answers to any given “natural man” and was a distant echo of strategy he applied as a homosexual in a society that perceived it as a criminal offense. Turing’s test remained one of the most memorable contributions to the debate about artificial intelligence, which is still ongoing today.
Shortly thereafter, Turing had gone into an affair with a young man in Manchester, and became the subject of robbery and blackmail, just based on the fact that homosexual relations are considered a criminal offense “a great rudeness.” Turing turned to the police, but with a paradoxical twist of newly crowned monarch Elizabeth, when the victim becomes a criminal. Turing was sentenced to chemical castration with estrogen hormone injections. In addition, he was assessed as being a risk to security and removed from the projects in which he was involved. He believed he was under surveillance. Although he was sinking into depression and anxiety, the next two years he was thinking about quantum mechanics, mathematical biology and psychology. Alan Turing committed suicide on June 7 th 1954. when he eat an apple with cyanide. A few weeks before his death in a letter to a friend he wrote a syllogism;
Turing believed that machines can think
Turing lies with men
Thus the machine can not think.