Alan Turing - An Inventor Ahead of its Own Time

  Follow Alan Turing - An Inventor Ahead of its Own Time

A few days ago, while I was watching 87th Academy Awards, I made a list of the movies I really wanted to see. On top of that list was a movie called The Imitation Game (2014). This movie follows the life of Alan Turing, the man I deeply admire for a couple of months now.


Just 24 hours ago, I had no idea how much of an influence Alan Turing had, not just to the field of artificial intelligence, but to the history of the world as well, especially in the technology we use today.

Alan Turing truly was a genius. Probably one of the biggest geniuses in his generation, that is. He had some key contributions in breaking the Enigma machine during the World War II, which had a huge impact on the result of World War II. He pioneered the work in artificial intelligence (even before the term artificial intelligence was established), where he was the first one to discuss the ways of replicating human brain inside of a machine. His papers remain relevant today, 60 years after they were published. Turing test (a test which is used to determine is a machine intelligence really indistinguishable from human intelligence) is, of course, named after him as his creator and there’s an annual contest going on each year.

So, how did the U.K. thank him for his work? By convicting him because of his sexual orientation. He had a choice to accept a hormone treatment or to spend two years in prison. He chose the first option and continued his work.

He was found dead two years later. Even though it was believed for more than 50 years that he had committed suicide by eating a poisonous apple (allegedly inspired by his favorite fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), there are some indications that his death might be an accident as explained by Roland Pease.

Even though the movie has received some excellent reviews and won an Oscar for the Best Adapted Screenplay, not everyone agrees that this movie is historically accurate (as described here and here).

But, this historical inaccuracy managed to convince me to look for more sources and to find more information about his life. Even though there are quite a lot of different views on his life, all of them agree that he had an interesting, out of the ordinary life, and that he managed to do some of the most amazing technological work at the time.

I really consider him as the father of computing and I can’t stop wondering: if he was still alive, would he be completely proud of what we’ve accomplished so far or would he think that we could do much more?

Anyway, back to the subject. Because of the movie inaccuracy and the fact that there are so many different ways to learn about Alan Turing, I have decided to create a separate repository with a single Markdown document where I will try to put all of the informations about Alan Turing (and his work) that I can find. I really think that he is an important person in history and that more people need to be educated on what he has really accomplished. This is just a small way of helping people to learn.

You can find the repository here.

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