Posts Tagged ‘Turing’

Turing: nearly on the money

October 29, 2012

Turing statue at Bletchley Park (photo: Antoine Taveneaux, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

I’ve long been a supporter of the campaign to put Alan Turing on the back of a ten pound note in recognition of his mathematical achievements. So I was pleased to get an email over the weekend confirming that the national e-petition has reached 21,996 signatures. This is good news for the campaign and as the e-mail from HM Government says:

“As this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response: The Bank of England has been including historic characters on its notes since 1970. The Bank welcomes suggestions from members of the public for individuals who might feature on future banknotes, and publishes a list of these suggestions on its website. These suggestions inform the process when a new note is under consideration.”

So all good. A glance at the published list, however, shows the competition that our Alan is up against. There must be around 150 names, ranging from philosopher Roger Bacon to singer Robbie Williams (yes, you read that correctly).

More signatures on the petition can only help. Surely the inventor of the founding theory of digital computers can beat the singer of 90s hit ‘Angels’?

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Turing’s Last Syllogism

September 11, 2009

It is not often that computer scientists trouble the front pages, but today’s news of an apology by the PM for Alan Turing is long overdue. Much of what we take utterly for granted when sat in front of our PCs can be traced back to his work in the 1940s. The news prompted me to dust down my old copy of David Leavitt’s biography of Turing (“The Man Who Knew Too Much”). In one of his last letters to a friend he tells of his forthcoming prosecution for “sexual offences with a young man” and his disappointment following a lacklustre performance in a BBC radio broadcast. He concludes the letter with: “I’m rather afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future:

Turing believes machines think
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think.”