Archive for June 24, 2012
Yesterday, June 23, 2012, was the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing. If you’ve never heard of him, you need to know.
He is one of the reasons we are able to communicate on the Internet. Without Alan Turing, the modern computer would not exist.
He is one of the reasons Hitler did not conquer England. Without Alan Turing, the Nazis may have won the Second World War.
He was a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, before there were computers capable of even approaching the idea. Without Alan Turing, I could not have written my first published novel.
He was a genius and a war hero. He was a scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died in 1954, at the age of 41, from cyanide poisoning. His death was initially ruled a suicide, and has been so viewed for 58 years. Yesterday, at a conference at Oxford, historian Jack Copeland questioned that conclusion.
His death may have been accidental. Whether Turing killed himself, or whether he died from carelessness, either way, his death matters. His life mattered. The world is poorer for his loss. You should care about this, for his life says something — I don’t know what, but something — about the society we live in and the world we are creating. (more…)