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that communication in both directions between teacher and pupil can take place by some means or other.» [16] Turing’s theory already aims at the need to create systems that guarantee for bi-directional communication of this kind. Necessary for this purpose are «unemotional channels of communication» over which it is possible to «teach a machine by punishments and rewards to obey orders given in some language, e.g., a symbolic language.» [17]

Human-machine communication

Turing’s idea was directed at the concept today known as ‹interface› or ‹humanmachine interface.› This intermediary element is a kind of ‹translator› who transforms the information conveyed in symbolic language into binary code, the language of the computer. To this extent, the interface opens up a communication channel between the two systems, between the human and the electronic.

Turing here went one step further than the feedback theory of Wiener, whose concept was confined to recursive processes within single systems. Turing, by contrast, conceived of a system capable of


learning and based on the exchange of information between human and machine. The approaches of the two mathematicians differ above all in the possibility of comparing systems. Norbert Wiener took as his point of departure the principle that a resemblance exists between living beings and machines, with the learning process being restricted to the acquisition of information and the ability to memorize the results of past operations for future usage. Alan Turing insisted that there was a difference between the behavior of the human nervous system, in which «chemical phenomena are at least as important as electrical» [18] and the capabilities of a discrete machine. [19] Machines «which move by sudden jumps or clicks from one quite definite state to another» [20] do not, strictly speaking, exist, since in reality everything is a constant process. This difference therefore makes impossible a direct connection between human beings and machines, and at the same time demands the development of a ‹channel› (interface) that initiates this communication. [21] Turing’s proposal was thus a decisive step towards the development of electronic interfaces for human-machine communication, and

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