Thursday, January 04, 2018

Alan Turing’s Radio Broadcasts

In May and June of 1951, The BBC broadcast lectures by five leading figures of British computing: Douglas Hartree, Max Newman, Alan Turing, Frederic ("Freddie") Williams, and Maurice Wilkes. Of these men, Turing has become the most famous. On May 15th of that year, the BBC broadcast his  short lecture, a riveting 8-page steamroller titled "Can Computers Think?"

It is one of the earliest written works intended for the general public that directly addressed the future of AI. He had written much "heavier" thesis on the topic Ex. Intelligent Machinery (1948).  If you want to get into the deep end, pick up a copy of Mechanical Intelligence, Volume 1 Collected Works of A.M. Turing

Unfortunately the recordings made by the BBC of these broadcasts no longer exist. However, the Turing archives at King’s College, Cambridge do contain Turing’s original radio script. You can read that script here complete with hand corrections.  Recently writer and mathematician James Grime re-recorded them and posted the audio on Youtube to benefit us all. To Mr. Grime we give our thanks.