Rethinking Turing’s Test and the Philosophical Implications

Minds and Machines 30 (4):487-512 (2020)
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In the 70 years since Alan Turing’s ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ appeared in Mind, there have been two widely-accepted interpretations of the Turing test: the canonical behaviourist interpretation and the rival inductive or epistemic interpretation. These readings are based on Turing’s Mind paper; few seem aware that Turing described two other versions of the imitation game. I have argued that both readings are inconsistent with Turing’s 1948 and 1952 statements about intelligence, and fail to explain the design of his game. I argue instead for a response-dependence interpretation. This interpretation has implications for Turing’s view of free will: I argue that Turing’s writings suggest a new form of free will compatibilism, which I call response-dependence compatibilism. The philosophical implications of rethinking Turing’s test go yet further. It is assumed by numerous theorists that Turing anticipated the computational theory of mind. On the contrary, I argue, his remarks on intelligence and free will lead to a new objection to computationalism.



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Diane Proudfoot
University of Canterbury