The Seminal Speculation of a Precursor: Elements of Embodied Cognition and Situated AI in Alan Turing

  • Massimiliano L. CappuccioEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 376)


Turing’s visionary contribution to cognitive science is not limited to the foundation of the symbolist approach to cognition and to the exploration of the connectionist approach: it additionally anticipated the germinal disclosure of the embodied approach. Even if Turing never directly dealt with the foundational speculation on the conceptual premises of embodiment, in his theoretical papers we find traces of the idea that a cognitive agent must develop a history of coupling with its natural and social environment, and that primitive bodily stimuli like pain and pleasure drive this coupling and elevate it to real learning by setting its normative preconditions. Turing did not consistently defend the centrality of embodiment, and ended up confounding or deemphasizing in various occasions the critical importance that he had himself implicitly recognized to the body. In line with the anti-representationist, radically enactive approaches to basic cognition, I believe that if Turing eventually failed to fully value the cognitive-developmental role played by the body, this was not because he proposed a computational and functionalist model of the mind, but because he tacitly assumed the content/vehicle dichotomy as a primitive of that model: in fact, he still believed that intelligence is a realized by decontextualized contents that can be detached and transmitted regardless of their mode of physical implementation.


AI Alan turing Developmental robotics Embodied cognition Connectionism Cognitivism 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United Arab Emirates UniversityAl AinUAE

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