Alan Turing’s Most Fascinating Quotes

Alan Turing Quotes

Alan Turing is considered to be one of the most influential thinkers in the history of computing, as he is often considered the father of computer science. Turing was born in Britain on June 23, 1912. Turing studied mathematics at Cambridge and then did mathematical research on probability and statistics. He pivoted to work at Bletchley Park in 1938, where he did code-breaking for Britain’s military intelligence during World War II.

Alan Turing was a British scientist who was famous for his contribution to the fields of mathematics and computing. He is best known for his work on cracking the German Enigma code during World War II. He designed a machine called the Bombe that helped decipher German messages encrypted with an Enigma machine. It was such a huge breakthrough that it can be said that Allied victory in World War II was owed largely to Turing’s Bombe and his many other contributions.

Here are his most intriguing quotes.

Alan Turing Quotes

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”  — Alan Turing

“We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”  — Alan Turing

“A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.”  — Alan Turing

“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

“If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.”  — Alan Turing”

“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.
Mathematical reasoning may be regarded.”  — Alan Turing

“Programming is a skill best acquired by practice and example rather than from books.”  — Alan Turing

“Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game.”  — Alan Turing

“Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.”  — Alan Turing

“A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine.”  — Alan Turing

“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.”  — Alan Turing

“We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.

“The original question, ‘Can machines think?’ I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.”  — Alan Turing

“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.”  — Alan Turing

“Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity. The activity of the intuition consists in making spontaneous judgements which are not the result of conscious trains of reasoning. ”  — Alan Turing

“The exercise of ingenuity in mathematics consists in aiding the intuition through suitable arrangements of propositions, and perhaps geometrical figures or drawings.”  — Alan Turing

Related: Fascinating Quotes about Perception

“We are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency of cold porridge”  — Alan Turing

“My little computer said such a funny thing this morning.”  — Alan Turing

“Machines take me by surprise with great frequency”.  — Alan Turing

“Up to a point, it is better to just let the snags [bugs] be there than to spend such time in design that there are none.”  — Alan Turing

“Mathematical reasoning may be regarded rather schematically as the exercise of a combination of two facilities, which we may call intuition and ingenuity.”  — Alan Turing

“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

“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.”  — Alan Turing

“A very large part of space-time must be investigated, if reliable results are to be obtained.”  — Alan Turing

“These disturbing phenomena [Extra Sensory Perception] seem to deny all our scientific ideas. How we should like to discredit them! Unfortunately the statistical evidence, at least for telepathy, is overwhelming.”  — Alan Turing

“The Exclusion Principle is laid down purely for the benefit of the electrons themselves, who might be corrupted (and become dragons or demons) if allowed to associate too freely.”  — Alan Turing

Also see: Quotes from Ready Player One

Video: Alan Turing

This short educational video is about the person who formulated many of the theoretical concepts that underlie modern computation – the father of computer science himself: Alan Turing.  From his theoretical Turing Machine and work on the Bombe to break Nazi Enigma codes during World War II, to his contributions in the field of Artificial Intelligence (before it was even called that), Alan Turing helped inspire the first generation of computer scientists – despite a life tragically cut short.

Also see our inspiring quotes about science

Summary

Turing is often called “father of computer science” because he laid the foundations on which all modern computers are based. His most significant contribution to mathematics is probably Turing’s Turk, a machine that mimicked human intelligence, but was not actually intelligent.

Alan Turing was a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. He helped to invent the world’s first computer, and he also pioneered research on machine learning. He was a polymath, fluent in many fields – he was a mathematician, logician and cryptanalyst and made significant contributions to mathematics, philosophy (especially computability), economics (the concept of free software), genetics (the “Turing test”) and other scientific disciplines including computer science, especially artificial intelligence.

Image Credit: “Alan Turing – born 100 years ago, 23 June 1912” by parameter_bond is marked with CC PDM 1.0

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