Tag Archives | Alan Turing

Alan Turing, Computer Science Genius Castrated for Homosexuality, Receives Pardon From Queen

Turing PlaqueIf not for Alan Turing we might all be speaking German right now. Or not, but regardless Alan Turing was one of Britain’s finest minds and did more than almost anyone to defeat the Germans in World War II. His reward: castration for homosexual activity. Posthumously (perhaps unsurprisingly he committed suicide) he has finally been pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II reports CNN:

Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who was later subjected to chemical castration for homosexual activity, has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide.

Turing was best known for developing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work is considered by many to have helped change the course of the war and save thousands of lives.

“Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science,” British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement Tuesday.

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David Malone’s Dangerous Knowledge

Via WarrenEllis.com:

One of the very interesting people I met at How The Light Gets In was the writer and filmmaker David Malone. In conversation with him and (it was a very weird weekend, okay?) Michael Nyman and the head of cultural affairs at the Mexican embassy to the UK, he’d mentioned that some of his work had been uploaded by other people to the net. Also, that his preferred form, the lyric televisual essay, had gone out of fashion.  As I’ve noted here more than once, proper rhetorical television isn’t really made any more.

So I went looking, when I got home.  And I found his DANGEROUS KNOWLEDGE:

In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians – Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing – whose genius

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Vint Cerf On Alan Turing

Photo: Joseph Birr-Pixton (CC)Vint Cerf was one of the main forces behind the creation of the Internet as we know it today. He is accorded elder statesman status, but is in fact still very active in the tech world (currently Google’s “Chief Internet Evangelist”). On the centenary of the birth of an earlier tech revolutionary, Alan Turing, Cerf writes for the BBC that  the mathematician who broke the Nazis’ Enigma code in World War 2 should be a household name:

I’ve worked in computing, and more specifically computer networking, nearly all my life. It’s an industry in a constant state of innovation, always pushing beyond the limits of current capability.

It is sometimes said that “broadband” is whatever network speed you don’t have, yet!

Things we take for granted today were, not that long ago, huge technological breakthroughs.

Although I’ve been lucky enough in my career to be involved in the development of the internet, I’ve never lost sight of the role played by my predecessors, without whose pioneering labour, so much would not have been accomplished.

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Alan Turing Code Papers Released

Turing PlaqueAlan Turing, perhaps the greatest computer scientist ever, famous for breaking the Germans’ Enigma code in World War II, wrote two papers on code breaking that have just been released by Britain’s spy center, GCHQ. From BBC News:

Two 70-year-old papers by Alan Turing on the theory of code breaking have been released by the government’s communications headquarters, GCHQ.

It is believed Turing wrote the papers while at Bletchley Park working on breaking German Enigma codes. A GCHQ mathematician said the fact that the contents had been restricted “shows what a tremendous importance it has in the foundations of our subject”.

It comes amid celebrations to mark the centenary of Turing’s birth. The two papers are now available to view at the National Archives at Kew, west London. GCHQ was able to approximately date the papers because in one example Turing had made reference to Hitler’s age.

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The Race To Built A Computer That Acts Perfectly Human

GoldPrizeAMT Computers may now be able to win on Jeopardy, but they still cannot quite trick us into thinking that they are flesh and blood. Writing for the The Atlantic, Brian Christian discusses taking part in the annual Turing Test, the goal of which is to design a computer that thinks and talks as a human does, and to fool judges into believing that they are chatting with a living person:

Each year for the past two decades, the artificial-intelligence community has convened for the field’s most anticipated and controversial event—a meeting to confer the Loebner Prize on the winner of a competition called the Turing Test. The test is named for the British mathematician Alan Turing, one of the founders of computer science, who in 1950 attempted to answer one of the field’s earliest questions: can machines think? That is, would it ever be possible to construct a computer so sophisticated that it could actually be said to be thinking, to be intelligent, to have a mind?

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