Alan Turing: Why the Tech World’s Hero Should Be a Household Name
The life and achievements of Alan Turing - the mathematician, codebreaker, computer pioneer, artificial intelligence theoretician, and gay/cultural icon - are being celebrated to mark what would have been his 100th birthday on 23 June.
To mark the occasion the BBC has commissioned a series of essays to run across the week, starting with this overview of Turing’s legacy by Vint Cerf.
Rory Cellan-Jones gets a preview of an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of scientist and computer pioneer Alan Turing.
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.
This year, in the centenary of his birth, there is one man in particular who is deservedly the focus of attention: Alan Turing.
Turing was born into a world that was very different, culturally and technologically, yet his contribution has never been more important.
His is a story of astounding highs and devastating lows. A story of a genius whose mathematical insights helped save thousands of lives, yet who was unable to save himself from social condemnation, with tragic results. Ultimately though, it’s a story of a legacy that laid the foundations for the modern computer age.
In 1936, while at King’s College, Cambridge, Turing published a seminal paper On Computable Numbers which introduced two key concepts - “algorithms” and “computing machines” - that continue to play a central role in our industry today