Alan Turing, the forerunner of Artificial Intelligence

That today a machine can perform facial detection or be a virtual assistant, it is possible thanks to the artificial intelligence devised by the mathematician Alan Turing. A tool that undoubtedly makes life easier in this digital age.

Who was Alan Turing?

Alan Mathison Turing, was a mathematician, theoretical computer scientist, logician, cryptographer and philosopher, born in London, England on June 23, 1912, and died in Wilmslow, Chehire, on June 7, 1954, at 41 years old.

His theoretical studies in computing make Alan Turing be considered one of the founders of this branch, laying the foundations for modern computing. In addition, due to his thesis that combines mathematical algorithms and computation, he is considered the father of a tool that is fundamental today, the artificial intelligence in machines.

First steps in Artificial Intelligence

Early computers were very basic in terms of performance. They were built and programmed to specifically solve a specific problem, and were conditioned to change their circuits to adjust their use.

Observing such limitation, Alan Turing in the year 1936, projected a computer which he called "Turing's Universal Machine", which had the capacity to solve any type of problem. The above would be possible as long as the problem could be interpreted with mathematical logic.

His idea of ​​it consisted in the analysis of mathematical algorithms, that is, converting the approach to mathematical terms. Then, it would be synthesized to a link of logical operations with base 2 binary numbers, which represents only two digits, 1 and 0. This is translated into two states or decisions that the machine can distinguish: true or false.

The computer would have the ability to simplify figures, images, sounds or letters to sequences of numbers ones and zeros. Thus, by means of a mathematical algorithm analysis program, problems could be solved in simple steps.

His idea of ​​it was exceptional, but incomprehensible that a machine could solve multiple problems, so lacking the necessary elements, it could not materialize at that time. However, it was the essential theoretical breakthrough, and the foundation that led to the elements of computer programming today.

Britain's first electronic computer

Alan Turing remained constant in the study of the field of computing, and resumed his artificial intelligence project in 1950.

In the book “ Computational Machinery and intelligence ” he raised again the idea of ​​creating a computer that he could think, and therefore consider it intelligent. His project consisted of creating a computer that analyzes mathematical algorithms, by programming codes and sequences so that it would be capable of executing tasks.

The computer would perform these tasks through the use of an artificial intelligence, which would behave similarly to human intelligence.

In this way, he created the Pilot Model ACE, the first computer with characteristics similar to the current ones, it was electronic and with programming stored in its memory. The novelty was that it could be used for various tasks by changing a program in memory, it was no longer necessary to change the entire circuit.

Turing test, a transcendental notion in the philosophy of artificial intelligence

Thus, Alan Turing proceeded in the year 1950, to devise a technique to check if a machine could think. This method was called the Turing test.

It basically consists of simulating an imitation game with a maximum duration of 7 minutes. It is made up of an interrogator and a computer. The interrogator must be in another room and chat with the computer. You will have time to ask a series of questions.

The original goal set by Turing was for the interrogator to recognize whether he was conversing with a person or a computer before 70% of the time was consumed. In the event that five minutes elapse without the interrogator being able to identify the computer, the machine is considered intelligent and passes the test.

It should be noted that the purpose of the test was to study the computer's ability to generate responses similar to those provided by a human. In this way, it was not interesting to evaluate the number of correct answers given by the computer.

Alan Turing claimed that the machine would be intelligent if it managed to confuse a person, by using the appropriate program, to impersonate a human. Due to his untimely death in 1954, Turing only observed the beginning of the so-called artificial intelligence. Thus, he made sure to prepare the test that would work to answer his question in the future, Can a machine think?

Since Alan Turing's initial approach, computer scientists have not rested in order to develop the long-awaited artificial intelligence. The Turing test is still fully valid after 70 years of creation, and remains a reference for the study of artificial intelligence.

The “Eugene Goostman” chatbot

The most significant advance in the demonstration of artificial intelligence occurred on June 7, 2014. In a massive event held at the Royal Society of London to commemorate 60 years of the death of Alan Turing. In this event, a simultaneous Turing test was performed on the chatbot named after Eugene Goostman, which simulated a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy.

Verified individually, without restriction in the conversation with the participants, the chatbot managed to convince 30 judges that it was human. That amount was equivalent to 33% of the participants in the test, and therefore enough to pass the test.

The test was structured to be carried out in a period of five minutes and was approved with a minimum of 30% of participants.

This was the first time a machine had managed to pass the Turing test, marking a major advance in artificial intelligence as a computer science tool.

However, the test was questioned by many because they considered its results inconclusive. Its detractors insist that the chabot was a machine configured to talk and not to think.

Despite the above, the Eugene Goostman chatbot has been declared the first intelligent machine.


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