Some authors, namely Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter, argue that anything capable of passing the Turing test is necessarily conscious (Hofstadter, D. R., & Dennett, D. C. (2006). The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self & Soul).

Others use the M Thesis - any physical system can be simulated by Turing Machine simulation - to make statements about the brain and conscience: It can be fully simulated by a machine.

Did Turing work make any impact on Psychology and Neurosciences or it was mostly ignored? If it did have an impact, which author bridged the gap between Math\CS to the other sciences?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure that The Turing Test is about Consciousness ? It seems to me to be about cognition ... $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2015 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MauroALLEGRANZA, I mixed the concepts a bit - I was going to ask about Universal Turing Machines, then went back and added the Turing Test. I will edit it for clarity. $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2015 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the Turing machines had anything to do with consciousness. They are on the playground of the computability. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Jan 23, 2015 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Universal Turing Machines makes clear statements about Consciousness. This statement seems to me at best in need of clarification, at worst a simple misunderstanding. Possibly relevant: plato.stanford.edu/entries/computational-mind $\endgroup$
    – user466
    Jan 24, 2015 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ @BenCrowell I've read it a little bit (not very deeply), but as I see, it is nearly full philosophy. CTM is "continous turing machine" which is imho a very… interesting thing (and probably highly over the normal graduate level). But it hasn't anything to do with UTM (Universal Turing Machines) which is a basic thing from this viewpoint (effectively, it is a turing machine which is enough complex to be able to emulate other turing machines). But this, what I can understand for it, is for computability. Somehow… modelling the consciousness, on a mathematical ground, I thing it were a $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Jan 25, 2015 at 0:09

1 Answer 1


Turings works are highly formal and hardcore mathematical. Actually, not even a simple mathematician would understand it, if he is not on a similar area.

The Turing-test is a very different thing from the Turing-machines. The Turing-machines aren't about consciousness, they are about computability. Turing reached very… surprising results, from a philosophical viewpoint they are similar in the computer science as Gödels' results were in the mathematics. For example, there are functions which can't be calculated by any computer. Actually, most of them aren't.

The Turing-test is rather a philosophical construction. Afaik the main problem for the psychologists, that for them is everything which is non-intelligent, per definitionem out-of-scope. (Off-topic, he-he).

AFAIK the philosophers of the present time like to play a lot with every scientific results, especially on the area of the artificial intelligence. They interact relative heavily with current results / possibilities. Around half of the leading text-book in most university-grad Artificial Intelligence courses, is about philosophical questions and not about the actual algorithms.

  • $\begingroup$ Yup. The Turing Test\The Imitation Game is his take on AI without having to deal with "pretending machines" nor conscience and related concepts. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2015 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ Now, lets go into Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy for the machines. There is something called Thesis M: I can now state the physical version of the Church-Turing principle: "Every finitely realizable physical system can be perfectly simulated by a universal model computing machine operating by finite means" (Deutsch1985). Any phisical system has a Turing Machine realization, and this includes the brain. Further on, we have: "For example, one frequently encounters the view that psychology must be capable of being expressed ultimately in terms of the Turing machine (Fodor1981 Boden1988)". $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2015 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ @LucasSoares 1: Are you sure that the brain is a purely physical system, and the exclusive source of the human consciousness is the brain? Afaik it is not a phylosophical consensus. 2: Are you sure that the essence of the consciousness can be validly modelled by turing machines? Every other physical-chemical process can be also modelled by turing machines, despite I didn't call all of them conscious. 3: The material reality (as our current best knowledge) is analogous and non-deterministic. The TMs are discrete and deterministic (in their most widely used sense). $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Jan 27, 2015 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure of very few things outside my math books. I'm enunciating hypotheses here :-) $\endgroup$ Jan 28, 2015 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ @LucasSoares Actually, this AI book citates very long and, honestly said, painfully boring debates between phylosophists. Actually, there is a spiritualist line there, and a materialist line, too. Actually, I dislike both of them, I am on the third line: on the line of the programmers who love study the AI algorithms :-) But, the spiritualist line is painfully agressive and painfully dummy, despite that he is more sympathic, because at least has arguments. The materialist line never will be able to explain, f.e. why there isn't a perfect machine translator. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:52

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