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Mike Davey

DIY Turing Machine in Action [Video]

Turing machines don't even need physical mechanisms, despite their having the word "machine" in their names -- indeed, they're one of the textbook examples that functionalist philosophers use to present their theory of mind as a series of inputs and outputs. At that, Turing machines, as Alan Turing proposed them in 1936, have quite a bit in common with modern computers, whose elegant, thought-experiment cousins they might be considered to be:
In non-technical terms, a Turing machine can be visualized as an indefinitely and infinitely long tape divided into rectangles (the memory) with a box-shaped scanning device that sits over and scans one component of the memory at a time. Each unit is either blank (B) or has a 1 written on it. These are the inputs to the machine. The possible outputs are:
  • Halt: do nothing.
  • R: move one square to the right.
  • L: move one square to the left.
  • B: erase whatever is on the square.
  • 1: erase whatever is on the square and print a '1.
Remarkably, Mike Davey recently made theory into reality when he built a working Turing machine using a felt-tip pen, a Parallax propeller, motors, and 1000 feet of white film leader. Video after the jump:

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