Turing on the “Imitation Game”

  • Noam Chomsky


Turing’s paper has modest objectives. He dismisses the question of whether machines think as “too meaningless to deserve discussion”. His “imitation game”, he suggests, might stimulate inquiry into cognitive function and development of computers and software. His proposals are reminiscent of 17th century tests to investigate “other minds”, but unlike Turing’s, these fall within normal science, on Cartesian assumptions that minds have properties distinct from mechanism, assumptions that collapsed with Newton’s undermining of “the mechanical philosophy”, soon leading to the conclusion that thinking is a property of organized matter, on a par with other properties of the natural world.


Cartesian science computational procedures Joseph Priestley organized matter simulation thinking 


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  2. Locke, J., 1690, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, book 2, Chapter 27, Section 26;
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noam Chomsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeMassachusetts

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