The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Technology as seen by Turing

Posted by Michael Haworth

“A man provided with paper, pencil, and rubber, and subject to strict discipline, is in effect a universal machine.”

Quote from “Intelligent Machinery: A Report by A. M. Turing,” (Summer 1948), submitted to the National Physical Laboratory (1948) and published in Key Papers: Cybernetics, ed. C. R. Evans and A. D. J. Robertson (1968) and, in variant form, in Machine Intelligence 5, ed. B. Meltzer and D. Michie (1969)

Quotation and quotation information obtained from

When I think of technology, I often think about an absolutely amazing mathematician that had a tragic ending named Alan Turing. Turing was integral during World War II to unlocking the German secret Enigma machine codes.  As can be seen in the quote above, he also brought forward the idea of a “universal machine” or technology that could simulate any computer algorithm.  Turing also proposed the “Turing Test” to prove or disprove whether a computer could be considered “intelligent” or not.  Technology extends the mental and physical capabilities of humanity and surrounds us and is part of much of what we do and how we live.  Technology includes everything from a simple plough to the most sophisticated computer or telecommunication systems. .  I see Turing looking at “technology” from a  similarly very large, all-cncompassing perspective rather from a specific task or application perspective.


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