Alan Turing’s work laid the foundation for the development of computers and artificial intelligence.
D.During the Second World War, German submarines roamed the Atlantic and attacked Allied ships. These underwater movements were difficult to follow because the “Enigma” code developed by the Germans seemed unbreakable. Alan Turing, a scientist working with the UK Government Code and the Cypher School at Bletchley Park, London, led efforts to develop the “bomb,” a strange looking giant machine that successfully deciphered the German code and sent it to Allied ships made it possible to change course without fear of detection. This also made the secret landings of “Normandy” possible, which in 1945 ultimately led to the German defeat.
Alan was born on June 23, 1912 and has always wondered how things happened. His early interest in science surprised and displeased his mother. Like other parents, she wanted him to learn the classics: subjects like Latin, English, and history. But Alan wasn’t good at school. When he was 15, his math and science grades in school were so disappointing that his teachers worried about letting him take the high school exams.
However, Alan was admitted to King’s College, Cambridge, where he was named “Scholarship Holder” in 1935 at the age of 23. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 1938 before returning to Cambridge University. Although Alan didn’t exercise much, he loved running. He ran into the office and told friends that this relieved the stress. In 1948, when Turing was 35 years old, he apparently ran the marathon and finished eleven minutes slower than Olympic time that year.
As a teenager, Alan Albert had read Einstein’s theory of relativity. His interest in the new and then unknown area of quantum mechanics inspired him to develop “machines that could think”. After the Second World War, Turing worked on the development of a “universal Turing machine” in which something mechanical could be programmed to perform tasks prescribed by the human mind. He has always been fascinated by the relationship between human thinking and automated processes and inventions. In 1950 he wrote about the “Turing Test”, an experiment that tested a machine’s ability to mimic human intelligence. His work laid the foundation for the development of computers and artificial intelligence (AI).
Alan Turing died in 1954 when he was just 41 years old. He allegedly committed suicide due to problems related to his homosexuality. He was humiliated and ridiculed, but is now considered one of the most brilliant minds of all time. Scientists and activists campaigned for a pardon, especially after homosexuality was “decriminalized” in 1967. The UK government formally apologized in 2009. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted him a royal pardon. His life was the subject of the 2014 film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.