Turing Sources

Discussion on the Mind and the Computing Machine,
27 October 1949

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On 27 October 1949, at Manchester University, a high-level interdisciplinary discussion on the theme 'The Mind and the Computing Machine' took place.

It was minuted in a typescript, made available to me by Prof. W. Mays, and referred to in my book Alan Turing: the enigma, page 415.

For the context, see the relevant page of the Alan Turing Internet Scrapbook.

The participants were leading figures in their different fields. Besides Alan Turing, they included the mathematician Max H. A. Newman, the chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi, and the zoologist and neurophysiologist J. Z. Young.

The document is of particular interest as recording a stimulant of Alan Turing's article Computing Machinery and Intelligence, published in October 1950. It also shows how vigorous was the interest in AI long before its conventionally accepted starting date of 1956. (It is particularly striking to see the words 'neural networks' appearing so early, on page 3.) The closing passage also illustrates the connection of Turing's earlier AI interests to his developing work on morphogenesis.

The typscript consists of five pages. The first two appear below, and then pages 3, 4 and 5 are on a continuation page.

Continue to pages 3, 4 and 5:

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Andrew Hodges