History

Alan Turing to feature on new £50 Note

In fantastic and progressive news Alan Turing is to be featured on the new £50 pound note, that in itself is a big deal as it was only rather recently that he was pardoned for homosexual acts committed in his life time. Alan Turing was truly a tragic figure, he was someone who Winston Churchill once credited for making “the single biggest contribution to the allied victory” in the Second World War. Yet his nation would utterly betray and turn their backs on him for simply being gay. 

It is rather fortunate that we live in a much more enlightened and understanding era. An era which is proud to adorn their money with the face of this great man, a man who is often remembered as the father of modern computers. This is truly a joyous and significant day.

The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney chose Mr Alan Turing from a shortlist of 12 after more than 227,000 suggestions of famous British figures were made by the general public. Currently the £50 note is adorned with the faces of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt, whose steam engine helped power the industrial revolution. But this is a era and one that needs positive change so the BoE wisely asked for suggestions of which  British scientists should be added to the £50 note.

“Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today,” Mr Carney said.

The shortlisted characters, or pairs of characters were:

  • Mary Anning

  • Paul Dirac

  • Rosalind Franklin

  • William Herschel

  • Caroline Herschel

  • Dorothy Hodgkin

  • Ada Lovelace

  • Charles Babbage

  • Stephen Hawking

  • James Clerk Maxwell

  • Srinivasa Ramanujan

  • Ernest Rutherford

  • Frederick Sanger

  • Alan Turing

Though famous for his contributions during World War 2 Turing would go on to pioneer early computers including the Automatic Computing Engine , one of the first electronic stored-programmer computers which was built all the way back in 1950. Eventually at Manchester University, he would develop programming for the Ferranti MK 1 computer, the world’s first commercially available electronic computer. This would lead to him to explore A.I. showing how far ahead if his time he was. He would even create the Turing Test.

The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Alan Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to create human-like responses. The judge would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation is a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so the result would not depend on the machine’s ability to render words as speech. If the evaluator cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test results do not depend on the machine’s ability to give correct answers to questions, only how closely its answers resemble those a human would give.

But now I am beginning to Digress. This is a great honor for Mr Turing and it is a great shame that he will never know how many people respect and choose to honor him so many years after his death.

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