Prof. Juliet Floyd

Prof. Juliet Floyd (Boston University)

Title: Revisiting the Turing Test: Humans, Machines, and Phraseology

Abstract: In this lecture I offer a re-reading of the Turing Test as a social experiment in human-to-human phraseology.  Turing’s 1936 analysis of computation is reviewed in light of its resonance with Wittgenstein’s Blue and Brown Books; certain objections to the Turing Test (including Searle’s Chinese Room) are answered; and Turing’s Test for “intelligent machinery” is construed as a human challenge to articulation in the face of emerging technology.  The significance of what Wolfram has called “computational irreducibility” and what Wittgenstein called the need for “surveyability” of algorithms is stressed and then placed beside contemporary concerns about nudging, algorithms and AI as these are applied with increasing precision and ubiquity in everyday life.  Turing’s prescient idea, that it is human beings who bear cultural responsibility for meaningful public discussion of the sorting, typing and design of algorithms, is defended as something more fundamental than what Kahnemann, Sibony and Sunstein have recently denigrated as mere “noise”.

Biographical Sketch: Juliet Floyd

Professor Floyd is professor of philosophy at Boston University. Primarily a philosopher of logic, language, mathematics and science, her research focuses on the interplay between logic and philosophy from the 18th to the 20th centuries and extends into the philosophy of symbolic forms and their social meanings.

She is especially known for her work on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of logic and mathematics (Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Mathematics, Cambridge Element 2021, Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Hardy’s Course of Pure Mathematics: A Non-Extensionalist Account of the Real Numbers (with Felix Mühlhölzer, Springer 2020) and the philosophy of Alan Turing (Philosophical Explorations of the Legacy of Alan Turing: Turing 100 (co-edited with A. Bokulich, Springer, 2017).

In 2016-19, professor Floyd was awarded a Mellon Sawyer Seminar Grant for faculty development (with James E. Katz and Russell Powell) to pursue research into the philosophy of emerging computational technologies and the ways they are transforming social, ethical, and philosophical aspects of everyday life. She also co-directed in 2019 The Mentoring Project For Pre-tenure Women Faculty in Philosophy.

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