Alan Turing Year / “Bringing Up Turing’s ‘Child-Machine’ “

The logo above is for “Alan Turing Centenary Year”

The webpage for the Alan Turing Centenary Year is:

Alan Turing was born on June 23, 1912 in London

In 2012, there will be celebrations throughout the globe commemorating his life;  at the link above there is a plethora of links to these celebratory events; I will be participating in one of these events:

“Computability in Europe 2012 (CiE 2012): How the World Computes”

to be held at the University of Cambridge, England, UK during the week leading up to the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth.

— The link to the program of CiE 2012 is:

— The link to the program for the special sessions in which I am participating is:

Below is the short abstract of my talk:

Bringing up Turing’s ‘Child-Machine’

S. G. Sterrett

Department of Philosophy, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA USA 15213

Abstract.  Turing wrote that the “guiding principle” of his investigation into the possibility of intelligent machinery was “The analogy [of machinery that might be made to show intelligent behavior] with the human brain.” (Turing 1948)  In his discussion of the investigations that Turing said were guided by this analogy,  however, he employs a more far-reaching analogy:  he eventually expands the analogy from the human brain out to “the human community as a whole.”  Along the way, he takes note of an obvious fact in the bigger scheme of things regarding human intelligence:  grownups were once children; this leads him to imagine what a machine analogue of childhood might be.  In this paper, I’ll discuss Turing’s child-machine, what he said about different ways of educating it, and what impact the “bringing up” of a child-machine has on its ability to behave in ways that might be taken for intelligent.  I’ll also discuss how some of the various games he suggested humans might play with machines are related to this approach.

The longer (10 page) abstract, to appear in the refereed conference proceedings as a Springer “Lecture Notes in Computer Science” volume edited by S. Barry Cooper, Anuj Dawar, Benedikt Loewe, is on the Philosophy of Science archive at



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