We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.
—Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950
To fully fathom the extent of Turing’s intellect is beyond our human capacity. A man plentiful of twists and turns, a man difficult to decode, and a man whose mind was greater than what he could accomplish. How do we begin to comprehend the eminence of Turing’s genius?
An exceptional influence on the advancement of theoretical computer science, his designs for a general purpose computer—the Turing machine—are monumental in providing a systematic approach to algorithmic computation. Throughout the Second World War, Turing played a crucial role in cryptology; he contrived techniques to crack German ciphers and posed the central force in breaking the Enigma code, thereby helping the Allies win the war. Considered by many the father of artificial intelligence, one of his most well-known works, the Turing test, has caused a significant and lasting impact. The test, designed to examine a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour comparable to that of a human, has remained a fundamental concept in the philosophy and ethics of AI. Turing’s seminal work on morphogenesis and mathematical biology described his effort to explain the natural phenomena of spirals, stripes, and patterns in nature.
However, obstacles arose when Turing was charged with gross indecency after admitting to having a homosexual affair with another man, which at the time was an illegal offence. He underwent hormonal treatment via injections for libido reduction and was barred from working for the Government Communications Headquarters any longer. The challenge of society preventing Turing from progressing further in his work and study led to a halt in his productivity. It is suspected that his later death only two years later was suicide, a result of the backlash he received for being gay.
Although he may not have been remembered nor accepted due to his homosexuality before, it’s vital we honour him now for his work and numerous contributions to his discipline. The epitome of a true computer scientist, his scope of genius not only was limited to computing but spread to all areas of sciences, biology, the arts, and engineering. His insight into the future and vision of a world powered by artificial intelligence was much ahead of his time. The technological marvels we’ve become accustomed to today are the brainchild of Turing’s brilliance.
His enthralling yet tragic life sets him apart from among the many great computer scientists of his time; his drastic ups and downs, feats, failures, and obstacles draw me into my notable’s elaborate story. Turing’s perseverance through the devastation of wartime and his philosophy to keep dreaming of a better tomorrow is a lesson for us all.
Turing and I share a passion for computers and technology. He and I could also be viewed as farouche; both of us are reserved, shy, and introverted. Turing was particularly known to be unsociable around the company of others. However, most qualities I share in common with my chosen notable are not my envisionment of an ideal individual. Instead, I aspire to emulate the many other traits Turing possessed that allowed him to endeavour great feats. His resourcefulness, determination, perseverance, and ambition are all qualities I strive to follow.
One of my goals in TALONS is to become a better, more confident leader and individual. My eminent person definitely exemplifies this throughout his career and work. Without his leadership within Hut 8 and the Ultra intelligence during WWII, the Allies may never have cracked the Enigma code.
I’ve never lived in a time of homophobia and have never experienced war firsthand, unlike Turing. To combat this barrier in my speech, I’ll make an effort to focus more on his unique character and personality, rather than the impacts society has brought upon him.
My next steps for studying my eminent person will be to contact those connected to Alan Turing and find whether they’d be willing to be interviewed. For my eminent project this year, I hope to be able to find an expert on my notable and be able to interview them in person.