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perception and Gestalt principles

Functionalism was inspired in part by the development of the computer, which was understood in terms of the distinction between hardware, or the physical machine, and software, or the function that the computer performs. It also was influenced by the earlier idea of a Turing machine, named after the English mathematician Alan Turing. A Turing machine is an abstract device that receives information as input and produces other information as output, the particular output depending on the input, the internal state of the machine, and a finite set of rules that associate input and machine-state with output. Turing defined intelligence functionally, in the sense that for him anything that possessed the ability to transform information from one form into another, as the Turing machine does, counted as intelligent to some degree. This understanding of intelligence was the basis of what came to be known as the Turing test, which proposed that, if a computer could answer questions posed by a remote human interrogator in such a way that the interrogator could not distinguish the computer’s answers from those of a human subject, then the computer could be said to be intelligent and to think. Following Turing, the philosopher Hilary Putnam held that the human brain is basically a sophisticated Turing machine, and his functionalism was accordingly called “Turing machine functionalism.” Turing machine functionalism became the basis of the later theory known as strong artificial intelligence (or strong AI), which asserts that the brain is a kind of computer and the mind a kind of computer program.