21 thought-provoking quotes by Alan Turing

Quotes by Alan TuringToday I thought it would be interesting to explore some quotes by Alan Turing.

For readers unfamiliar with him, Alan Mathison Turing is best known as an English computer scientist, mathematician, cryptanalyst, and philosopher.

He is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Certainly, in Britain.

Alan Turing was one of the greatest minds in British post-war history. He devised several techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers and he played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Axis powers in many crucial engagements.

Though he died relatively young, he left an impressive legacy, and his enormous influence continues to this day.

In a 2019 BBC series, following a vote by the audience, he was named the greatest person of the 20th century.

So, he was a widely respected individual and, for that reason, it’s worth listening to some of the things he had to say.

Here are 21 quotes by Alun Turing that I think are thought-provoking. Take a minute or two to reflect on them all.

And please feel free to pass them on.

Quotes by Alan Turing (1-10):

  1. Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.
  2. Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game.
  3. My little computer said such a funny thing this morning.
  4. Those who can imagine anything can create the impossible.
  5. Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.
  6. If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.
  7. Programming is a skill best acquired by practice and example rather than from books.
  8. I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard.
  9. We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.
  10. We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.

Quotes by Alan Turing (11-21):

  1. Unless in communicating with it one says exactly what one means, trouble is bound to result.
  2. Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.
  3. A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.
  4. A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline is in effect a universal machine.
  5. I want a permanent relationship, and I might feel inclined to reject anything which of its nature could not be permanent.
  6. Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.
  7. 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.
  8. The idea behind digital computers may be explained by saying that these machines are intended to carry out any operations which could be done by a human computer.
  9. No, I’m not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I’m after is just a mediocre brain, something like the President of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.
  10. 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.
  11. Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child’s? If this were then subjected to an appropriate course of education one would obtain the adult brain.

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