Alan Turing

247

The Death of Alan Turing, the Apple Martyr

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Half a century ago, Alan Turing disappeared.

A true war hero and mathematical genius, Alan Turing is also considered by many today to be the godfather of computer science and one of the precursors of artificial intelligence as a field of study. He radically, and forever, changed the destiny of Europe. But he also laid the foundations for a technological revolution that today affects every aspect of our lives.

A complex character with a broken destiny. A martyr of his time, particularly for his sexual orientation, his life nourished many fantasies. His death, however, remains a mystery to this day.

On June 7, 1954, Alan Mathison Turing, 41 years old and newly elected member of the Royal Society of London, was found lying dead on his bed. Next to him, an apple is half-eaten (a legend will make it the origin of the Apple logo, the well-known technology company).

The autopsy concluded that he had been poisoned with cyanide. It was then speculated, through an inquest, that Alan Turing would have administered himself the lethal dose of cyanide by soaking the found apple with poison before taking a bite out of it. This thesis was notably supported by two biographers: Andrew Hodges and David Leavitt, who believed that Alan Turing had wanted to replay the cult scene of his favourite fairy tale: Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

His mother, Ethel Sara Turin, didn’t believe in this suicide thesis, preferring instead that of accidental death. Indeed, for her, the death of her son was the consequence of a loose accumulation of highly toxic chemical material in his home. However, Hodges thought that Alan Turing had willingly messed up his scientific material to get his mother to reject any suicide claims.

But Turing’s mother was not alone. The specialist Jack Copeland also defended the accident theory. He explained that Alan Turing showed no signs of depression in the period before his death and that he even had a written list of projects to be carried out or in progress. He also expounded that Turing was engaged in experiments of all kinds and that he had cyanide for this purpose. According to him, the mathematician was careless or even imprudent when he was conducting these experimentations and could have inhaled a cyanide solution while trying to dissolve gold.

Other, more smoky, theses see his death as the work of the British secret service, considering him a potential risk to the communists. Finally, it has also been reported that he was a great fortune-telling enthusiast and that during an escapade at St Annes-on-Sea with the Greenbaum family, he saw a fortune-teller who told him something terrible that plunged him into deep sadness a few days before the world finds out about his death.

Thus, the exact conditions of the mathematician’s demise are still unknown, and unfortunately, this is likely to stand. What is certain is that Alan Turing’s disappearance was the macabre conclusion of the last, tragic years of his life. While the early 1950s were marked by a KGB espionage affair involving supposedly homosexual English Cambridge intellectuals – The Cambridge Five – Alan Turing, whose unique skills made him work on a host of sensitive subjects, was suspected. In this tense climate, in 1952, after an intimate relationship with one of his lovers was revealed, he was then convicted under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 and forced to undergo chemical castration, which would have undesirable effects on his mental and physical health. From that date, he was also excluded from major scientific projects. Yet, as Copeland had pointed out in support of his thesis, Alan Turing seemed to be gradually getting back on his feet. His treatment had been discontinued about a year before his death and he was showing positive signs of health, returning to work.

Unfortunately, he passed away a few months later. In disgrace and some loneliness, like so many great geniuses before him in the past. His legacy, however, lives on. And the digital wave he fathered still sweeps the world today, taking everything in its path.

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184

The Biography of Alan Turing, Famous Computer Scientist

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

I chose Alan Turing after watching the 2014 film The Imitation Game, discovering the significant impact he had on World War II and his relatively unknown contributions. His work as a Computer Scientist, Engineer, Mathematician, and Philosopher lead to the foundation of many current technologies and new scientific fields. The inventions he both theorized and designed promoted a number of victories for the allies and supported the development of modern personal computers.

Turing was born on June 23rd of 1912, the son of a civil servant working for the Indian Civil Service (ICS). Thus, Turing was taught at top private schools, entering a well-known independent boarding school at age 13 by the name of “Sherborne School”. He began to show signs of high intelligence and talent amongst his teachers, gravitating towards his natural interest in the mathematics and sciences. Nevertheless, Turing lacked motivation and comprehension in his classical studies, such as English, often being criticized by his teachers for his messy handwriting. Alan Turing’s main motivation for his work is presumed to many to be for the science and betterment of others; not status, fame, or wealthiness. In terms of higher education, Turing studied mathematics for four years at Cambridge University, from 1931 to 1934, graduating as a first-class honors student. In 1936, Turing presented a paper that coined the notion of a universal machine, later referenced as the “Turing machine” with the capability of computing any calculations, a necessary predecessor to the modern computers of today. Afterward, he moved to New Jersey to study mathematical logic at Princeton University. Within two years, he completed his Ph.D. at the age of 26. Alan Turing then returned to Cambridge to work at a government job decrypting german communication messages, right around the start of World War II. </p><p>Enigma was a German device that encrypted messages meant to be used over radio signals for military and diplomatic communication. The machine used a mechanism that would scramble the twenty-six letters of the alphabet using a different code every day. Initially, Turner created the Bombe at Bletchley, a government facility, to decipher enigma messages. However, the number of possible combinations was far too great to calculate in one day, approximately 151 trillion. Nevertheless, he figured out that by inputting some known words at the start of each day it would limit the number of possibilities to 17,576 combinations. For example, distinguished abbreviations and words were identified every day in the german daily weather forecasts. The bombe would limit an incomprehensible amount of sequences of enigma codes to a manageable few, then used for further analysis. Later, at least two-hundred of the machines were built and placed in differing military locations all over England, the United States Navy designed their own version as well. By knowing the location of the German U-boats, the British could direct their allied convoys from them. The “breaking of enigma” was also essential for winning the allies the Battle of the Atlantic, a battle between the western allies and Germans for the power of Atlantic sea routes, and other crucial attacks such as D-day. Many historians estimate that without these advancements the war would have continued for two more years and cost two million more lives.

After the war, Turing moved to London working for the National Physics Laboratory, designing computers for the government. During this time he was credited for designing the first personal computer and what went on to be known as a Universal Turing Machine, a machine able to be programmed to perform any calculation. He also went on to serve in the Mathematics and Computing departments at the University of Manchester. In a 1950s paper referencing future artificial intelligence, he created the Turing Test. A test determining whether a computer can exhibit human behavior that is indistinguishable to a human. This benchmark influenced and sparked the discussion over artificial intelligence. In the middle of this cutting-edge work, during an investigation into the burgling of Alan Turing’s house, he confessed to a relationship with another man. Being charged and convicted with “gross indecency”, he was served with twelve months of hormone therapy or imprisonment. After a year off the treatment, he was found deceased in his bed, poisoned by cyanide. The official coroner’s investigation concluded that the death was by suicide. A popular theory was that his suicide was a result of the symptoms of the strong medications and taken by a half-eaten apple found near his bed. While the apple had never been tested for cyanide, some had theorized that death could have been caused by accident, due to unintentionally inhaling hazardous fumes from a laboratory in his house. Some have also gone on to rule his death as a murder by the secret services, as Turing had a hold on significant classified material and homosexuals were noted as threats to national security. After a deliberate internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown candidly apologized for Turing’s “utterly unfair” treatment by the government. Years later, in 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a royal pardon.

Bibliography

  • Alan Turing. ​Biography.com​, A&E Networks Television, 16 July 2019, www.biography.com/scientist/alan-turing.
  • Alan Turing. ​Wikipedia​, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Oct. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing.
  • Code Breaking. ​History TV​, www.history.co.uk/history-of-ww2/code-breaking.
  • Copeland, B.J. Alan Turing. ​Encyclopædia Britannica​, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Alan-Turing.
  • History – Enigma (Pictures, Video, Facts & News). ​BBC​, BBC, www.bbc.co.uk/history/topics/enigma.
  • Hodges, Andrew. Alan Turing — a Short Biography. ​Alan Turing – a Short Biography​, 1995, www.turing.org.uk/publications/dnb.html.
  • Hodges, Andrew. Alan Turing. ​Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy​, Stanford University, 30 Sept. 2013, plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing/.
  • Hodges, Andrew. IWonder – Alan Turing: Creator of Modern Computing. ​BBC​, BBC, www.bbc.com/timelines/z8bgr82.
  • Smith, Chris. Cracking the Enigma Code: How Turing’s Bombe Turned the Tide of WWII. BT.com​, BT, 2 Nov. 2017, home.bt.com/tech-gadgets/cracking-the-enigma-code-how-turings-bombe-turned-the-tide-of-wwii-11363990654704.
  • Staff, IWM. How Alan Turing Cracked The Enigma Code. ​Imperial War Museums​, 3 June 2002, www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-alan-turing-cracked-the-enigma-code.
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291

The Imitation Game Movie: a Review of Alan Turning’s Test

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Turing Test was designed by a man named Alan Turing in 1950. It was initially called the “imitation game.” Originally, the test was designed to differentiate between males and females. It was played with three people—a man, a woman, and an interrogator. The interrogator would go into a separate room and try to determine who was the man and who was a woman by asking various questions such as “How long is your hair?” or “Do you have an Adam’s apple?” Based on the answers to the participants’ replies, the interrogator would decide who was the man and who was the woman. Often times this wasn’t easy since the participants would be allowed to lie in order to try to throw the interrogator off.

Turing went a step further with the “imitation game” idea by incorporating computers into it. He believed that in approximately fifty years (today’s time) computers would be programmed to acquire abilities rivaling those of human intelligence. As part of his argument, Turing put forth the proposal in which a human being and a computer would be interrogated through textual messages by an interrogator who didn’t know which was which. Ideally, if the interrogator were unable to distinguish them by questioning, then it would be unfair not to call the computer “intelligent.” Passing this test was considered regularly and reliably fooling an interrogator at least 50% of the time.

Turing and Godwin both believed that anything that could pass the Turing Test was genuinely a thinking, intelligent being. In particular, they felt that passing the test illustrated that the computer had the ability to interact with humans by sensibly “talking” about topics that humans talked about. Also, passing the test according to Godwin reflected that the computer was able to understand how humans thought and interacted.

Despite Turing and Godwin’s obstinate belief that computers could think, many believed that this was not the case. In the book Can Animals and Machines Be Persons?, Goodman set out an objection called the “Chinese-box” argument. Essentially, a man (who had no knowledge of Chinese) would be placed in a box and textual messages similar to those found in the Turing Test would be displayed on the screen in either English or Chinese. Then, man inside the machine would give the appropriate responses in Chinese. Despite his lack of knowledge of Chinese, the man would be able to give responses by using a large “Chinese Turing Test Crib Book.” Ideally, the person inputting the questions would be unable to distinguish that man’s Chinese from a native speaker’s. That argument was extremely damaging.

By describing the Chinese-box argument, Goodman was pointing out that externally it would seem that the man in the box understood both English and Chinese when in reality he wasn’t “thinking in Chinese” the way he did in English – he was really just translating the symbols he saw into different symbols. Fundamentally, computers did the same thing. They would translate their binary code into symbols which we could understand. To do so, they would use rules analagous to those found in the “Chinese Turing Test Crib Book.” Overall, the Chinese-box argument supported the idea that a computer could cleverly imitate thinking and understanding but could never be a real, literal “thinker” or “person.”

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140

The Imitation Game Movie: an Attempt to Solve the World’s Most Difficult Puzzle

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Imitation Game

Biographical film has been around for many years and is one of man’s favourite genres portraying an exciting insight into a significant person capturing histories events. Most people like this genre as they get to see an exciting version of a story in which fascinates them and people would rather be told the cute and happy versions of these films because they like to have all their movies end “happily ever after” but that’s not always the case. When you look at the meaning of biographical it is something completely different, we are meant to be told the truth and nothing but in these films to get a good perspective of what happened but when we watch films that have been historically distorted just to make the movie a more engaging narrative for the viewer’s we are given misconceptions as to what really happened. One film portrayed wrongly is the 2014 academy award winning “The Imitation Game” it follows a man during WW2 named Alan Turing on his quest to solve the world’s hardest puzzle.

Alan Turing is recently well known for his involvement into breaking Enigma supposedly an unbreakable code that could take 20 million years to try every combination. Alan Turing and another mathematician Gordon Welchman collaborated together to make the upgraded Bombe which was a deciphering machine but did not have the capacity or knowledge to break Enigma. The Bombe machine was firstly built on the 18th or March 1940 and greatly contributed to the war effort. Without Turing’s machine the war would have taken longer by est. 2 years and saved millions of lives. Turing and his fellow accomplices were told to stay quiet about the whole operation and that they should stay away from one another. Although Turing was a war hero he got trialled for indecency to another man and was forced to take pills to make him normal. Alan Turing, the world’s most important code breaker committed suicide on the 7th of June 1954 age 41 after poisoning his own apple with cyanide because he felt so weak and tired and all he wanted to do was live peacefully with his machines.

Alan Turing was played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game” which the story of Alan Turing and the rise of his code breaking machine is told. The film includes many historically correct facts displaying on the surface quite an accurate representation of his life during WW2 and what it entitled for him. On closer inspection of the movie itself you can see some historical errors made in the movie and also they are not errors they are out there to create tension and add a certain dramatic affect to how his life really played out. Although there are many differences between the movie and non-fiction it isn’t too much of a problem as they are small things that don’t ultimately change our view of the person in focus and what happened to him.

Well throughout the film there are key events that have stood out to the viewers as being important to his life and his story but not all are true. The fact that he got investigated for being a Soviet Spy is false he was never suspected and in fact the real Soviet Spy worked in a whole other group to Turing they never contacted or met each other. The whole relationship in the movie which shifted the audiences view on certain characters was completely invented through thin air. Also the detective that uncovers Turing’s homosexual tendencies was stretched a bit far in the movie, he has a fake name and he never suspected Alan of being a spy only thought that he was suspicious.

Now although the movie made some false historical instances in their film they did stick to the real story of Alan Turing mostly all throughout the film. Alan’s personality is said to be a perfect recreation of the man himself with Benedict showing a massive amount of skill on stage. The Bombe in the movie looks nearly basically the exact same as the real one apart from the red wires that flow nearly completely over it most likely to give the perception that the machine was alive and that it was Alan’s baby and most prised piece of work.

The film won many prestigious awards such as best adapted screenplay and also winning the Palm Springs International Film Festival. This film is obviously looked upon in good nature winning multiple awards for best film and well adapted screen play. Biopic films have been around for so long that people really forget about what they are truly meant to be about. Biographical films such as this are indeed doing the name well but others use false accounts to spice the story up so more people will feel inclined to go watch it in the cinemas. At the moment the only thing producers worry about is money they don’t really care about how people can be portrayed in the wrong light and that it affects how that person will be remembered for years to come because people will base their judgments on what they have seen believing it to be true when in fact it is usually not.

By Angus

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