Alan Turing Predicts Machine Learning And The Impact Of Artificial Intelligence On Jobs

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Press, Gil. "Alan Turing Predicts Machine Learning And The Impact Of Artificial Intelligence On Jobs." Forbes on line, 19 February 2017. As of May 2023, available here.[1]

From the article:

February 20, 1947

Alan Turing gives a talk at the London Mathematical Society in which he declares that “what we want is a machine that can learn from experience.”

Anticipating today’s enthusiasm about machine learning and deep learning, Alan Turing described how intelligent machines will work:

"Let us suppose we have set up a machine with certain initial instruction tables, so constructed that these tables might on occasion, if good reason arose, modify those tables. One can imagine that after the machine had been operating for some time, the instructions would have altered out of all recognition, but nevertheless still be such that one would have to admit that the machine was still doing very worthwhile calculations. Possibly it might still be getting results of the type desired when the machine was first set up, but in a much more efficient manner. In such a case one would have to admit that the progress of the machine had not been foreseen when its original instructions were put in. It would be like a pupil who had learnt much from his master, but had added much more by his own work. When this happens I feel that one is obliged to regard the machine as showing intelligence."

Anticipating the augmentation aspect of the debate over AI and jobs, Turing suggested that humans will be needed to assess the accuracy of the calculations done by digital computers. At the same time (similar to many of today’s commentators on the subject), he also predicted the automation of high-value jobs (held by what he called “masters” as opposed to the “slaves” operating the computer) and the possible defense mechanisms by what today we call “knowledge workers”:

See for Vonnegut's Player Piano and the debates on automation, and also for the possibility of other statements by Turning anticipating 21st-c. concerns with — and as of May 2023 publicly-argued serious fears of — AI.

RDE, finishing, 2May23