Special Issue "Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2022 | Viewed by 4832

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Diane Proudfoot
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Interests: Alan Turing and Turing computability; the philosophy and history of artificial intelligence; philosophy of language and logic; Ludwig Wittgenstein
Dr. Zhao Fan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Interests: history of analytic philosophy; history and philosophy of logic and computing; Turing; Wittgenstein

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Alan Turing carried out groundbreaking research in several fields, including mathematics and theory of computability, cryptography, computer science and artificial intelligence, and computational biology. His philosophical work was also pioneering, although perhaps less well-known—with the exception of his famous imitation game for testing intelligence in machines. In this Special Issue, we focus on Turing the philosopher.

Examples of Turing’s philosophical work are his research on computation, the foundations of mathematics, the nature of mind, and machine intelligence—and there are more examples of explicitly and implicitly philosophical work in his writings.

We are seeking (1) discussions of the implications of Turing’s philosophical work for established debates, philosophical and scientific; and (2) fresh perspectives on the philosophical significance of Turing’s writings. The overall goal of this Special Issue is to position Turing’s philosophical work amid state-of-the art research today.

Prof. Dr. Diane Proudfoot
Dr. Zhao Fan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Philosophies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Alan Turing
  • artificial intelligence
  • computability
  • cryptography
  • history of computing
  • imitation game
  • philosophy of logic
  • philosophy of mathematics
  • philosophy of mind
  • theoretical computer science

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
The Accidental Philosopher and One of the Hardest Problems in the World
Philosophies 2022, 7(4), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7040076 - 04 Jul 2022
Viewed by 459
Abstract
Given the difficulties of defining “machine” and “think”, Turing proposed to replace the question “Can machines think?” with a proxy: how well can an agent engage in sustained conversation with a human? Though Turing neither described himself as a philosopher nor published much [...] Read more.
Given the difficulties of defining “machine” and “think”, Turing proposed to replace the question “Can machines think?” with a proxy: how well can an agent engage in sustained conversation with a human? Though Turing neither described himself as a philosopher nor published much on philosophical matters, his Imitation Game has stood the test of time. Most understood at that time that success would not come easy, but few would have guessed just how difficult engaging in ordinary conversation would turn out to be. Despite the proliferation of language processing tools, we have seen little progress towards doing well at the Imitation Game. Had Turing instead suggested ability at games or even translation as a proxy for intelligence, his paper might have been forgotten. We argue that these and related problems are amenable to mechanical, though sophisticated, formal techniques. Turing appears to have taken care to select sustained, productive conversation and that alone as his proxy. Even simple conversation challenges a machine to engage in the rich practice of human discourse in all its generality and variety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
Article
Turing’s Conceptual Engineering
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030069 - 20 Jun 2022
Viewed by 618
Abstract
Alan Turing’s influence on subsequent research in artificial intelligence is undeniable. His proposed test for intelligence remains influential. In this paper, I propose to analyze his conception of intelligence by relying on traditional close reading and language technology. The Turing test is interpreted [...] Read more.
Alan Turing’s influence on subsequent research in artificial intelligence is undeniable. His proposed test for intelligence remains influential. In this paper, I propose to analyze his conception of intelligence by relying on traditional close reading and language technology. The Turing test is interpreted as an instance of conceptual engineering that rejects the role of the previous linguistic usage, but appeals to intuition pumps instead. Even though many conceive his proposal as a prime case of operationalism, it is more plausibly viewed as a stepping stone toward a future theoretical construal of intelligence in mechanical terms. To complete this picture, his own conceptual network is analyzed through the lens of distributional semantics over the corpus of his written work. As it turns out, Turing’s conceptual engineering of the notion of intelligence is indeed quite similar to providing a precising definition with the aim of revising the usage of the concept. However, that is not its ultimate aim: Turing is after a rich theoretical understanding of thinking in mechanical, i.e., computational, terms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
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Article
From Turing to Conscious Machines
Philosophies 2022, 7(3), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7030057 - 29 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 644
Abstract
In the period between Turing’s 1950 “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” and the current considerable public exposure to the term “artificial intelligence (AI)”, Turing’s question “Can a machine think?” has become a topic of daily debate in the media, the home, and, indeed, the [...] Read more.
In the period between Turing’s 1950 “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” and the current considerable public exposure to the term “artificial intelligence (AI)”, Turing’s question “Can a machine think?” has become a topic of daily debate in the media, the home, and, indeed, the pub. However, “Can a machine think?” is sliding towards a more controversial issue: “Can a machine be conscious?” Of course, the two issues are linked. It is held here that consciousness is a pre-requisite to thought. In Turing’s imitation game, a conscious human player is replaced by a machine, which, in the first place, is assumed not to be conscious, and which may fool an interlocutor, as consciousness cannot be perceived from an individual’s speech or action. Here, the developing paradigm of machine consciousness is examined and combined with an extant analysis of living consciousness to argue that a conscious machine is feasible, and capable of thinking. The route to this utilizes learning in a “neural state machine”, which brings into play Turing’s view of neural “unorganized” machines. The conclusion is that a machine of the “unorganized” kind could have an artificial form of consciousness that resembles the natural form and that throws some light on its nature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
Article
Intuition and Ingenuity: Gödel on Turing’s “Philosophical Error”
Philosophies 2022, 7(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7020033 - 18 Mar 2022
Viewed by 951
Abstract
Despite his unreserved appreciation of Turing’s analysis for being a “precise and unquestionably adequate definition” of formal system or mechanical computability, Gödel nevertheless published a short note in 1972 claiming to have found a “philosophical error” in Turing’s argument with regard to the [...] Read more.
Despite his unreserved appreciation of Turing’s analysis for being a “precise and unquestionably adequate definition” of formal system or mechanical computability, Gödel nevertheless published a short note in 1972 claiming to have found a “philosophical error” in Turing’s argument with regard to the finite nature of mental states and memory. A natural question arises: how could Gödel enjoy the generality conferred on his results by Turing’s work, despite the error of its ways? Previous interpretative strategies by Feferman, Shagrir and others have mainly tried to resolve the disparity by distinguishing different types of arguments in Turing and taking Gödel to approve only some of them. By a more integral examination of their ideas, especially Turing’s response to the “mathematical objection” based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorem and Gödel’s own conception of finite yet non-mechanical procedures, and taking some of the main ideas of current developments in machine learning into consideration, I will try to present a new explanation for the apparent disparity, arguing that there is no “error” on Turing’s side and the seemingly conflicting views held by Turing and Gödel should best be seen as complementary, keeping intuition and ingenuity together. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
Article
Computability, Notation, and de re Knowledge of Numbers
Philosophies 2022, 7(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7010020 - 18 Feb 2022
Viewed by 853
Abstract
Saul Kripke once noted that there is a tight connection between computation and de re knowledge of whatever the computation acts upon. For example, the Euclidean algorithm can produce knowledge of which number is the greatest common divisor of two numbers. Arguably, algorithms [...] Read more.
Saul Kripke once noted that there is a tight connection between computation and de re knowledge of whatever the computation acts upon. For example, the Euclidean algorithm can produce knowledge of which number is the greatest common divisor of two numbers. Arguably, algorithms operate directly on syntactic items, such as strings, and on numbers and the like only via how the numbers are represented. So we broach matters of notation. The purpose of this article is to explore the relationship between the notations acceptable for computation, the usual idealizations involved in theories of computability, flowing from Alan Turing’s monumental work, and de re propositional attitudes toward numbers and other mathematical objects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Turing the Philosopher: Established Debates and New Developments)
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