6.xxx (AKA 6.803 and 6.833)

The Human Intelligence Enterprise: 2019

Style Guide
Grading Marks
Project Instructions
Office hours

Rules of Engagement

Note that the Rules of Engagement in 6.xxx are the same as those in 6.034: show up, pay attention, leave your laptop shut, and put away you cell phone.


Computing Machinery and Intelligence (HTML) (PDF), by A. M. Turing

Note: Turing's paper was originally published in 1950.

WRT: 1.5 hours

WRT means Winston's Reading Time—how long it took PHW to read the paper.

Usually, we limit you to one side of one sheet of paper. This time, you get two sides of one sheet of paper.


Part A

Read the Prospectus if you have not already, so you will know as much as possible about what 6.xxx will be like. If the prospectus or this assignment give you second thoughts, send me (phw at mit dot edu) email immediately so we can give your slot to someone else.

Part B

Read the Style Guide carefully.

Turing, Side 1

If you discuss the paper or the assignment with another student—which we encourage—indicate whom you have talked with in your submitted composition. Of course your submitted composition must be written entirely by you.

Part A

You are to complete this part of the assignment on one side of one sheet of paper, using 10 pt type or larger, with reasonable interline spacing and margins.

Note that, for various reasons, we insist on strict adherence to the stipulated page limits.

Part A1—Decoding a Paper

You have a nightmare. You have partied all weekend, 6.xxx is to meet in fifteen minutes, you have not read the assigned paper yet. You have lost all your electonic devices, but have a paper copy of the assigned paper. You are afraid Winston will call on you at random to summarize the important ideas. Explain how you would use your fifteen minutes to prepare for that possibility. Do not limit yourself to techniques suggested by the Turing paper.

Part A2—The Turing Paper

Suppose that you are Alan Turing. You have been asked to participate in a panel discussion on the possibility of intelligent computers at a meetng of the Royal Society. You prepare some talking points by completing the following:

Part A3—Go back over your paper

Check your paper carefully for style infringements as defined by the Style Guide, especially quote misuse. Do this as if such an infringement would expose you to public ridicule or an F in the subject.

Part A4—Go back over your paper again

This time make absolutely sure you have not committed the quotation crime identified in the Style Guide.

Part A5—For discussion preparation, not part of written assignment

Be prepared to explain the arguments against the possibility of computer intelligence along with Turing's response.

Miscellaneous, Side 2

Part A

Read the Style Guide carefully. Then, on the other side of your sheet of paper, criticize the following:

The author believed “Patrick and Karen drank wine and beer in Miami and Montreal. The former was too cool and the latter was too warm. Since the food was good, however, neither wanted to leave.”

We are very picky about the points listed in the Style Guide, so you should review every paper you write to be sure that you have adhered to the commandments. Otherwise, you will drive us crazy with rage and have to resubmit your paper to get a grade.

Part B

Alan Turing has returned to life for the current academic year and has decided he wants to take 6.xxx to catch up on what has happened after he died in 1952. He has asked you to draft an entry to the “Why do you want to take 6xxx” question that will make Winston hope he will be a lottery winner. Provide the draft.

Part C

Then, draft an entry to the “Why do you want to take 6xxx” question that will make Winston indifferent about whether he will be a lottery winner.