22 thoughts on “Thoughts On Turing”

  1. I’ve never been impressed by Turing. Seeing people react to Eliza like programs and early reference to ‘electronic brains’ just demonstrates human gullibility.

      1. No doubt, but I have my moments.

        It could be I’m not smart enough to appreciate his brilliance. After all, I only have a 160 IQ according to testing back in high school and worked most of my life as a programmer (multiple business owner, air traffic controller, dish washer even) so perhaps have some appreciation of computability. I know all computers are in a sense the same. Most people do not know the relation of a Turing machine to all computers. Or it could be something else. I prefer Von Neumann’s contributions.

        What I am is honest, willing to look foolish, but not a [complete] fool. I really like you Rand (warts and all) because you have qualities I admire (and always will.)

        On this question I also feel confident you would be wrong. I would love to have met Turing and have a conversation with him. I guarantee I would have a few things to say that would have impressed him because he did appreciate my way of thinking, much more than most people… but the things he’s remembered for just do not impress me. I am unable to lie.

          1. Rand’s readers are pretty smart. I am always impressed either by their schooling or accomplishments.

            The Alpha Nerds have a deep knowledge of their own field and usually others because they like to nerd out on things other than comics and other fandom. Its great. I’m always learning new things and finding topics to research and best of all no one seems to mind me dumbing things down.

        1. “I know all computers are in a sense the same.”

          How do you know that? The proof is non-obvious. Did you arrive at that conclusion from first principles?

          We’re so immersed in the effects of the thoughts of prior generations we don’t even notice, like background. Turing, too, was standing on the shoulders of giants (like Lady Ada, Boole, and Jacquard).

          1. I would say that formal proof usually follows intuition. I lack the formal education. I had a full scholarship to Harvey Mudd in the late seventies contingent on a semester at LACC. The Dean at Harvey Mudd, said my SATs were enough but they usually didn’t take high school dropouts. I took my SATs the same way I took my GED… on a whim when passing by a school on a test day.

            My life has been trauma throughout mixed with a very strange psychology. My stepfather used to beat my mother unconscious until my teen years in which they would pull me out of nights sleep to mediate their arguments. At 16 they split and I started life in CA with $50 and a red Dodge Dart RT (I had no idea what I had and wish I still had it.) Went to AZ where my starter fell out. The Navy called me every month for two years to get me to join after I took the (N?)ASVAB, again on a whim.

            Then I joined the Job Corps, became student president, got beat up by LA cops because they could (yeah, but Rodney King had a recording.)

            Ah, life…

        2. Candice Swanepoel is a type of computing mechanism, and although Alan Turing’s universal machine can in theory do anything with a paper tape that she can, my gut says that she can do things with a paper tape that no Turing machine could possibly match, and which I can scarcely imagine. All computers are not the same. QED.

          1. Was it Penrose that referred to microtubules in the brain that made it a quantum computer? I meant classical, but you have a point. None of my computers had quite as nice a case however.

          2. Penrose should stick to Physics and Math. The Emperor’s New Mind dismissed the signal-transform capability of neurons out of hand and proposed a handwaving QM effect which has never been characterized or measured.

          3. Yes, that’s the book. Its been ages since I read it. Now that you’ve added some insight I’m going to have to find a copy and read it again, darn ya.

            The brain has a lot of computer like qualities and researchers have done some really interesting stuff mimicking subsystems. But there always seems to be something that can’t be bridged by more data, memory, speed or whatever.

            Like that older post said, no performance improvement in a chimp makes it up the step to being a man. Somethings missing.

            The good news, if the singularity folks are right, is we don’t have long to find out either way.

      2. BTW, just saw the Hawking movie. Divorcing his wife when he got fame (a loyal woman that probably made it possible for him to go on) wasn’t a point of it, but I can’t really like Hawking because of it. I’m sorry for his illness, but find myself unforgiving of his action.

  2. The Turing machine gave birth to the John Birch machine, which is defined as a finite-state machine in which the tape moves one step to the right after each computation.

  3. I’ve always thought Alan Turing is given more credit than he deserves. Thanks in a good degree to a lot of people in the mathematical community. He did a lot of the work which was required to crack Enigma but a lot of the theoretical work was done by Polish scientists and the machines were actually built by other people who get a lot less credit than he did. While a lot of the ideas in modern computers are more easily credited to von Neumann and others.

    As for the concept that he ‘invented’ software it is preposterous. It completely ignores inventions like the Jacquard loom which separated the programming from the actual mechanical device with paper tape.

Comments are closed.