Alan Turing was a mathematician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist who played a pivotal role in cracking the German Enigma code during World War II.
He also developed the first computers and helped to form the basis for modern computing.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of his most insightful quotes on computing and artificial intelligence.
Alan Turing Quotes 2023
1. “One day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other, “My little computer said such a funny thing this morning” ― Alan Turing
2. “O corpo fornece alguma coisa para o espírito cuidar e usar.” ― Alan Turing
3. “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagined anything of who do the things that no one can imagine― Alan Turing
4. “We are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency of cold porridge.― Alan Turing
5. “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine― Alan Turing
6. “We like to believe that Man is in some subtle way superior to the rest of creation. It is best if he can be shown to be necessarily superior, for then there is no danger of him losing his commanding position.― Alan Turing
7. “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.― Alan Turing
8. “The works and customs of mankind do not seem to be very suitable material to which to apply scientific induction.― Alan Turing
9. “A very large part of space-time must be investigated, if reliable results are to be obtained.― Alan Turing
10. “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.― Alan Turing
11. “We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.― Alan Turing
12. “Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible.― Alan Turing
13. “I am not very impressed with theological arguments whatever they may be used to support. Such arguments have often been found unsatisfactory in the past. In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, ‘And the sun stood still… and hasted not to go down about a whole day’ (Joshua x. 13) and ‘He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time’ (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory.― Alan Turing
14. “I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.― Alan Turing
15. If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.― Alan Turing
16. “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.― Alan Turing
17. “It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.― Alan Turing
18. “Finding such a person makes everyone else appear so ordinary…and if anything happens to him, you’ve got nothing left but to return to the ordinary world, and a kind of isolation that never existed before.― Alan Turing
19. “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine― Alan Turing
20. “The isolated man does not develop any intellectual power. It is necessary for him to be immersed in an environment of other men, whose techniques he absorbs during the first twenty years of his life. He may then perhaps do a little research of his own and make a very few discoveries which are passed on to other men. From this point of view the search for new techniques must be regarded as carried out by the human community as a whole, rather than by individuals.― Alan Turing
21. “The original question, ‘Can machines think?’ I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.― Alan Turing
22. “Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good. Humans find violence deeply satisfying. But remove the satisfaction, and the act becomes hollow.― Alan Turing
23. “I’ve now got myself into the kind of trouble that I have always considered to be quite a possibility for me, though I have usually rated it at about 10:1 against. I shall shortly be pleading guilty to a charge of sexual offences with a young man. The story of how it all came to be found out is a long and fascinating one, which I shall have to make into a short story one day, but haven’t the time to tell you now. No doubt I shall emerge from it all a different man, but quite who I’ve not found out.― Alan Turing
24. “It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence.― Alan Turing
25. “The popular view that scientists proceed inexorably from well-established fact to well-established fact, never being influenced by any unproved conjecture, is quite mistaken. Provided it is made clear which are proved facts and which are conjectures, no harm can result. Conjectures are of great importance since they suggest useful lines of research.― Alan Turing
26. “A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.” ~ Alan Turing― Alan Turing
27. “Sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things no one can imagine.― Alan Turing
28. “It is not possible to produce a set of rules purporting to describe what a man should do in every conceivable set of circumstances.― Alan Turing
29. “Can machines think?”… The new form of the problem can be described in terms of a game which we call the ‘imitation game.” It is played with three people, a man (A), a woman (B), and an interrogator (C) who may be of either sex. The interrogator stays in a room apart front the other two. The object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman. He knows them by labels X and Y, and at the end of the game he says either “X is A and Y is B” or “X is B and Y is A.” The interrogator is allowed to put questions to A and B… We now ask the question, “What will happen when a machine takes the part of A in this game?” Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our original, “Can machines think?― Alan Turing
30. “Let us return for a moment to Lady Lovelace’s objection, which stated that the machine can only do what we tell it to do. One could say that a man can “inject” an idea into the machine, and that it will respond to a certain extent and then drop into quiescence, like a piano string struck by a hammer. Another simile would be an atomic pile of less than critical size: an injected idea is to correspond to a neutron entering the pile from without. Each such neutron will cause a certain disturbance which eventually dies away. If, however, the size of the pile is sufficiently increased, the disturbance caused by such an incoming neutron will very likely go on and on increasing until the whole pile is destroyed. Is there
31. a corresponding phenomenon for minds, and is there one for machines? There does seem to be one for the human mind. The majority of them seem to be “sub-critical,” i.e. to correspond in this analogy to piles
32. of sub-critical size. An idea presented to such a mind will on average give rise to less than one idea in reply. A smallish proportion are supercritical. An idea presented to such a mind may give rise to a whole “theory” consisting of secondary, tertiary and more remote ideas. Animals’ minds seem to be very definitely sub-critical. Adhering to this analogy we ask, “Can a machine be made to be super-critical?” ― Alan Turing
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Conclusion: Alan Turing Quotes 2023
Although Alan Turing’s life was cut tragically short, his legacy continues to inspire scientists, mathematicians, and computer programmers around the world.
The quotes we’ve shared in this post are a small glimpse into the brilliance of one of history’s most important thinkers. If you’re interested in learning more about Turing or his work, we encourage you to do some additional reading.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Turing in the comments below. What is your favorite quote from him?