25 Alan Turing Quotes From The Father of Modern Computing
August 10, 2022 5:00 AM EST
Alan Mathison Turing was a brilliant mind and a war hero, and these Alan Turing quotes will give you some insight into his thoughts.
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The Englishman’s professional credits include mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist.
The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, chronicles his time during the war.
Under the direction of Commander Alastair Denniston, he joins the cryptography team of Hugh Alexander, John Cairncross, Peter Hilton, Keith Furman, and Charles Richards.
Together they try to analyze the Enigma machine and crack the code the Nazis are using to send messages.
These Alan Turing quotes include some from the movie, as well as quotes about artificial intelligence and computer science.
Turing is often referred to as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
The Turing machine formalized concepts of algorithms and computations, providing a framework for early computers.
In 1946, King George VI appointed Turing an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his wartime service contributions.
Turing’s genius and efforts during the war didn’t safeguard him from the struggles he would face because of his personal life.
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Alan Turing quotes from The Imitation Game
1. “Are you paying attention?” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
2. “Think of it. A digital computer. Electrical brain.” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
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3. “Was I God? No. Because God didn’t win the war. We did.” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
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4. “I like solving problems, Commander. And Enigma is the most difficult problem in the world.” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
5. “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.” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
6. “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.” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
7. “Of course, machines can’t think as people do. A machine is different from a person. Hence, they think differently. The interesting question is, just because something, uh.. thinks differently from you, does that mean it’s not thinking?” ― Benedict Cumberbatch, (Alan Turing, The Imitation Game)
Prophetic Alan Turing quotes about artificial intelligence
8. “If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.” ― Alan Turing
9. “We are not interested in the fact that the brain has the consistency of cold porridge.” ― Alan Turing
10. “We may hope that machines will eventually compete with men in all purely intellectual fields.” ― Alan Turing
11. “Unless in communicating with it one says exactly what one means, trouble is bound to result.” ― Alan Turing
12. “The original question, ‘Can machines think?’ I believe to be too meaningless to deserve discussion.” ― Alan Turing
13. “A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.” ― Alan Turing
14. “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
15. “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
16. “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
17. “We like to believe that Man is in some subtle way superior to the rest of creation. It is best if he can be shown to be necessarily superior, for then there is no danger of him losing his commanding position.” ― Alan Turing
18. “It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage, therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.” ― Alan Turing
Famous Alan Turing quotes about computer science, codes, and math
19. “Mathematical reasoning may be regarded.” ― Alan Turing
20. “Codes are a puzzle. A game, just like any other game.” ― Alan Turing
21. “Science is a differential equation. Religion is a boundary condition.” ― Alan Turing
22. “Programming is a skill best acquired by practice and example rather than from books.” ― Alan Turing
23. “The works and customs of mankind do not seem to be very suitable material to which to apply scientific induction.” ― Alan Turing
24. “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
25. “The exercise of ingenuity in mathematics consists in aiding the intuition through suitable arrangements of propositions, and perhaps geometrical figures or drawings.” ― Alan Turing
What did you learn from these Alan Turing quotes?
Turing was gay, and the British Government punished him for it.
Some of these Alan Turing quotes offer insight into his thoughts about relationships and how he feared people would question his intelligence because of his sexual orientation.
In 1952, they arrested Turing for homosexual acts; the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 had mandated that “gross indecency” was a criminal offense in the UK.
As punishment for his “crime,” he suffered through chemical castration treatment, with DES, instead of going to prison.
Two years later, Turing died after biting into an apple laced with cyanide.
The official inquest into his death ruled it a suicide, but there was also evidence that suggested it was accidental poisoning.
Apparently, Turing was often conducting experiments, and it is possible that he ingested the poison accidentally.
The circumstances of his death, though, have led to a theory that Apple’s logo (the apple with a bite out of it) is a nod of tribute to the man who made significant strides in computer programming.
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