Describe Turing response to Descartes

Mind, in Descartes's view, is special, central to human existence, basically reliable. The mind stands apart from and operates independently of the human body, a totally different sort of entity. The body is best thought of as an automaton, which can be compared to the machines made by men. It is divisible into parts, and elements could be removed without altering anything fundamental. But even if one could design an automaton as complex as a human body, that automaton can never resemble the human mind, for the mind is unified and not decomposable. Moreover, unlike a human mind, a bodily machine could never use speech or other signs in placing its thoughts before other individuals. An automaton might parrot information, but "it never happens that it arranges its speech in various ways, in order to reply appropriately to everything that may be said in its presence, as even the lowest type of man can do" (quoted in Wilson 1969, p. 13S).
Turing devised the test in the 1950’s, as a hypothetical test to determine when a machine had been imbued with sufficient intelligence to pass for human. In the test, a human judge is placed with two computer terminals, one connected to another human, and the other to a machine. The judge then converses with each terminal, and if he is unable to determine which terminal is connected to the machine, the machine is said to have attained similar intelligence to a human.
This test is often presented as a product of the 20th century. However, RenĂ© Descartes’ Discourse on Method, written in 1637, contains the following passage, which bears a fair resemblance to the Turing Test:
If there were machines which had the organs and the external shape of a monkey or of some other animal without reason, we would have no way of recognizing that they were not exactly the same nature as the animals; whereas, if there was a machine shaped like our bodies which imitated our actions as much as is morally possible, we would always have two very certain ways of recognizing that they were not, for all their resemblance, true human beings.
The first of these is that they would never be able to use words or other signs to make words as we do to declare our thoughts to others. For one can easily imagine a machine made in such a way that it expresses words, even that it expresses some words relevant to some physical actions which bring about some change in its organs (for example, if one touches it in some spot, the machine asks what it is that one wants to say to it; if in another spot, it cries that one has hurt it, and things like that), but one cannot imagine a machine that arranges words in various ways to reply to the sense of everything said in its presence, as the most stupid human beings are capable of doing.
It seems that Descartes was able to conceive not only of a machine that might mimic a human in form, but also in action and speech, and he reasoned that the best way to differentiate this machine from a human being would be to engage it in conversation, and observe whether it conversed naturally, in the manner of a human being, or whether the conversation would be driven solely by rote and logic.
Thus the Turing Machine, a mathematical automaton model, developed by Alan Turing in 1940 was addressed by the Descartes in his Discourse on Method.
In “Computer Technology,” the section introducing Turing 1950, Stuart Shieber, well known to computational linguists for his research and to computer scientists, suggests that Turing played the role with respect to electronic computers that Descartes played with respect to mechanical devices, asking the same questions, only about different technology.


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