I've spent quite a while studying Turing's 1950 paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence", regarded by many as the mission statement of AI, and one part of this paper has always seemed completely mysterious. Why did Turing so eagerly promote the idea of E.S.P. in a paper about programming a computer with the computation of intelligence?
Turing wanted to eliminate any human ESP abilities from affecting the test. This ability could make it more difficult for the computer to fool the human or raise doubts about the validity of the test. He proposed a “telepathy-proof room” to cover this possibility. He was not promoting ESP. He considered it “disturbing”.
By mentioning ESP he unintentionally did the following.
(1) He gave credibility to the existence of ESP by claiming the evidence for telepathy in particular was “overwhelming”. Indeed, the evidence for what is called psi today is overwhelming. See Dean Radin’s “Selected Psi Research Publications”.
(2) His concern for ESP pointed out human abilities that he did not expect computers to be able to simulate. This put in doubt a computational theory of the human mind even if it turned out that some future machine could be conscious in some way.