This is a revisit of a Sarah and Deblina episode on Alan Turing, who conceived of computers decades before anyone was building one. He also acted as a top-secret code breaker during World War II. Despite his accomplishments, he was prosecuted as a homosexual by the British government.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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hey listeners, Happy Saturday. Today we are sharing our twenty twelve podcast on Alan Turing, and this one comes from past hosts, Sarah and Billina. We also have an update to this episode and twenty
Fourteen Alan Turing was granted a royal pardon for his one thousand nine hundred and fifty two conviction for gross indecency. That pardon came into effect on December 24th, two thousand and thirteen
posthumous pardon was generally praised, it was all
criticized because thousands of other men had face similar convictions, but when
when was pardoned. They were not, however,
nicknamed the Alan Turing LAW received royal assent and twenty sixteen and that paved the way. It's a pardon men primarily
gay and bisexual men who had been convicted of these types of crime,
under laws that have since been abolished and a mass pardon followed in January of twenty seventeen. It did include other previous podcast subject: Oscar Wilde at that point about fifteen thousand of the sixty five thousand men who had been convicted under these now repealed laws were actually still living,
so listen and for Alan Turing. Welcome to stuff you missed in history, class from Housetop works, dot com,
hello and welcome to the podcast, I'm Sarah dowdy and I'm to blame a Chakraborty, and today we're going to be talking about Alan Turing and he's considered the father of computer science, the father of artificial intelligence.
and also one of the most important wartime code breakers in world war. Two's, though, quite
Erasmus, just right off the bat therein for listeners with a
or literary band he's also been called. The Shelly of Science, which is the name like a kind of took a shine, do yeah
there's have too he's been a really popular podcast suggestion, though,
Russia focus on math and technology has always kind of scared us off a little that I think I mean things like a number theory probability. Computer programs
snug our usual subject matter stuff. I'm I'm honestly a little scared to get into too deeply, but fortunately some of his work really transcends the arcane. It's it's understandable. If you put some effort into it- and there is a wealth of biographical materials to which I feel it
last few podcast I've done. That has not been the case. That was a little. It was a little refreshing really to research, Alan Turing and know that there's so much out there about this man, there are em.
T lecturers. There's a digital archive at Alan Turing DOT net their articles in just about every science. During all you can name, and there is a host of works podcast.
two of Jonathan Increase talked about, terranes life last fall on tax stuff, and so that's a greatly
turn? If you want a little more of them in depth, discussion on programming, Youngblood ethically
Who was glad, though, that
even may admitted that the math was kind of tricky to discuss its just so high level, but they do really do a good job covering the programming and in that side of turning story,
it's also June witches pride mob and that's why we ve picked. Turning for today's topic he's a great if tragic example of a remarkable man really a genius whose life was so clearly
fine by his homosexuality and reminded me a lot of Oscar Wilde who Katy and I covered last year for pride. My feet,
another. Man who is really destroyed by prejudice at the absolute height of his achievement fell
it's a great story to learn about in its it's good to know about turnings achievements. But it is also a really really sad story. He had
but before we get to that we're gonna start sort of with the beginnings of his life. Alan Matheson Turn was born June. Twenty third nineteen to
in London to a member of,
indian civil service, his father actually served in the Madrid presidency and his mother's father was the chief engineer of the Madrid Railways, but turned
grow up in India. Instead, as parents are the kids
certain british homes, which, as you can imagine, was pretty lonely and his parents didn't even come back to England until nineteen twenty six year, not until his dad retired, though he spat prep school trying to
you as much science and math as he could get away with, which, at the time,
really the agenda. I guess you would be an outstanding student these days, but his scepticism and his curiosity also sometimes got him in trouble with with the authority figures at school,
but in nineteen twenty eight he had his first experience of true
intellectual stimulation. He made friends with a boy who
one year ahead of them. Christopher, more come and Jonathan increase the way they explain this
I really liked the way they exclaimed. The friendship, essentially, the two kids could bounce ideas off of each
therein, combined with a new and really come away from it with
deeper understanding so sort of a a friendship of of two minds that was really influential in the young turnings life
so when Morecambe died. Suddenly a nineteen thirty teenage Turin
left wondering what happened to more comes consciousness. He was pretty devastated and and wanted to explore that idea further. So, for three years he wrote letters to more comes mother, trying to figure
out the relationship between mind and matter and that's a quest that would later define his work and artificial intelligence which to talk about a little more in a few minutes. He I will definitely be tightened,
stop, but in October nineteen thirty one, the well he's really in the middle of his grief and
and this new look entered the relationship between mind and matter. He goes off to college kings, college, Cambridge and, of course, he studies, math
and it was really a different inspiring environment for them to one where he could think creatively. He could study things like philosophy and economics and surround himself by intelligent people and also recognise his own sexuality and he sold
lies with some of the Anti WAR intellectual circle, but his politics weren't really sharply defined during this period,
his main recreation was athletic. He liked running and rowing and failing and of course, doing math yelled by night,
in thirty four he had received a distinguished degree and by nineteen thirty five at age. Twenty two. He got a fellowship two kings college
So well on this intellectual, a path of Hellas, but it was in nineteen, thirty five that turn started, tackling an intriguing mathematical question and that's the question of decide ability and during that price
says he envisions a machine that could complete computational operations. Just like the human brain, the Turin.
Jeanne at that point was purely theoretical, but it could perform any kind of operational programme to do play chess, calculate numbers anything like that and that I
it develops into the idea of a universal turn machine which could handle any task and individual turning machine could so
example. If the turn machine is the early computer program, the universal machine would be the early computer, the one
gene that can do any task as programme to do here, and
a guy named, be Jack Copeland described. The significance of this creation in an MIT election really help me understand how import,
It was because it might
feel a little old hat. If you, if you just look at it like a computer, a computer program, he said now
when nearly everyone owns the physical realisation of a universal turn machine turnings idea.
Of a one: stop shop. Computing machine is apt to seem as obvious as the wheel, but in nineteen thirty, six engineers thought in terms of building specific machines for particular per
so this was really a revolutionary idea. The time and, of course, some people realize
but not everyone, knew the full implications of of what this ideal would eventually come to
then it would be more than a decade before the physical realisation of a turn machine was actually built until then
inconsiderate continued. His studies at Princeton and then return to England and Cambridge before the outbreak of world war two and then on the first floor,
They have the war. He joined the government code and cipher school, whose headquarters where at the now famous fleshly park in London and the G Ccs was busy
bringing together all of the country's taught minds. At this point, the mathematicians like turning
also chess player than Egyptologists all sorts of of smart people with different kinds of skills. Anyone who
they hoped, might land insight into breaking german codes, which was what they were
all about in the chief code at the time, the one that was
by giving them the most trouble was the enigma and polish crept analysis had been
working on the Enigma for a really long time since nineteen thirty two and they had created a code,
King machine called the Bomba a few years after that, but
nineteen, thirty, nine turning and others were helping to create a new machine, one that could adapt to the Enigma because it got to where the Germans were changing the codes, every twenty four hours, pretty much
though he helped develop a new machine called the bomb which could decipher aloof,
Enigma communications. There's a really neat british heritage article by Jean Pass about Leslie Park, which I recommend a few to certain wanna get a picture of it. We are actually talking about. This might be a good at third in itself, but a widow.
Too much away. It nicely describes
rooms full of these machines and the operators who maintain them and in case you think that their little tiny divisive like where used to today little electronic device
They are not in any sense like that. There are large mechanical machines that required a lot of upkeep. They had to be kept clean. They were, they took up the room.
Eventually, so these really big machines. They helped crack the AIR Force Enigma
the german naval Enigma was kind of a tougher nut to crack and also credit
well for winning the battle of the Atlantic. So touring had worked out part of the cap
in nineteen, thirty nine, but the big break in the situation came courtesy of the Royal Navy when they captured and indeed
machine, an code book from a you both
so by June. Nineteen. Forty one you boat traffic was decipher. Ball gather crack the code and by early nineteen, forty two blithely park was
coding, thirty nine thousand german transmissions the month and, of course, some of those were complaints about
underwear, splitting meddling in that everything, but also some really serious communications and there it rose to an eventual eighty four thousand transmissions, em up so pretty astonishing figure and with them.
Eighteen, forty, three breaking of Germany's high level binary tell a printer code, which was what Hitler himself used in and high members of his government
Churchill was able to read Hitler's male before Hitler could read it according to push Keith article, something I I thought with interesting and something I never knew about. Fleshly park yet mean either, but it turns out the combined
subliminally park, shorten the more by two years and, for his part, turn received the order of the british Empire, which was one of the most procedures towards you could get this up.
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Yeah, and so after the war he's looking for a new job and he was recruited to the National Physics Laboratory and the task conveniently enough was too
thine and build an electronic computer, so eventually
real turning machine seems like just a guy to bring in to do that and he called his needed
an automatic computing engine which has the lovely acronym. Eighth, if you could have made a good computer
and it was a really ambitious, advanced design. It
If it had been built, it would have had the memory capacity of an early MAC. So it's pretty astounding, if you consider this immediately after world war. Two, you empathy
moved more slowly than they had a bloody park. There was lots of red tape to deal with and turns. Colleagues thought that the original ace design was too much and opted for a smaller machine which was called the pilot
ITALY's so part of the problem here was that turns Wharton
achievements were and recognise,
due to their secrecy. Yeah. He couldn't go out and say well guy that fleshly park. I did this, I mean he. He couldn't talk about any of that stuff yeah. He can
brag on himself so to relieve the four
patient and stress that the situation he started long distance running and it
an injury actually to prevent him from qualified for the nineteen forty eight olympic Marathon team, so he was pretty good at it- is fairly good added. It's it's one of those. I don't know it's like a cherry on top for somebody.
so many talents that they would also be an amazing athletes who, I was gonna, say it's almost not fair, but you're a kinder than I am because this well
Whatever way you look at it, but by this point,
This meant that the National Physics Laboratory wasn't gonna, be the first place that built the first working Electronic stored programme. Digital computer
honor went to Manchester University and it happened in June in eighteen. Forty eight, though turning obviously frustrated by his his time
National physics laboratory, I got beat out yeah, they got beat out. He wasn't really listen to his achievements and accomplishments weren't really appreciated to their the level they deserve to be so he went to work in Manchester oddly,
Ass as the deputy director, even though there was no director of the programme, covers strange little detail
nobody design. The programming system of the fur Anti Mark won the first commercially available digital electronic computer. So hopefully that was a little salt.
For him, my
and it was also during his time at Manchester that turning started to hypothesize about what would
it or be known as artificial intelligence and- and I thought it was- it was interesting- and this is something that cannot. I guess difficult for me to talk about with my limited knowledge of computer programming,
giant. They just work on a computer. I know it happens inside, but I was impressed that even though he had he had the skill to work on developing this field, he put the machine to
use right away. If I'm sure he was still considering about how it could be advanced, but he started looking for ways to use the frontier mark, one which I thought was was pretty need yet kind of went back to us.
Old interest. In the connection between mind and matter and in nineteen fifty Turin wrote a paper called
shooting machinery and intelligence in the journal mind in it. He propose something called an imitation test and today that's called the turing test,
the test, basically provided away to judge the intelligence of a machine without bias. So
Interrogator, for example, would sit in an isolated room from two subjects: one person,
a machine and the interpreter would ask them both questions and if the interrogator couldn't tell who
who than that meant. The machine was thinking tat. It had intelligence in some.
Definable way and turn even predicted. He had a lot of confidence in computer. He predicted that by the year two thousand, a computer would be so good at this game. This. This,
interrogator, for example, would sit in an isolated room from two subjects. One person, one a machine and the interpreter would ask them both questions and if the interrogator couldn't tell who was who than them in the machine was thinking yeah, it had intelligence and thumb definable way and turning even predicted here
He did have a lot of hopes or computer yeah. He also hypothesize that one day quote: Ladys would take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other my little computer.
such a funny thing in the morning. I think you're a little closer that one then the seventy percent goal.
Maybe I don't know I still like my dog you out
so turn continued to study, artificial intelligence, but also stuff, like biological growth, with the guarantee mark. When I said that he really did put that machine to go you than his career with expanding into these different subject. Areas and is recognition, is also growing. He was alive
As a fellow of the Royal society of London in March, one thousand nine hundred and fifty one that's another really prestigious honor he was appointed to readership. In the theory is computer.
At Manchester, which sounds like a very modern title, but in nineteen fifty two things took a turn for the worse than his life after a break in his Manchester Home, and he told the police that he thought the burglar was probably connected to a man. He was quote having an affair with and he had been pretty open about his sexuality since college. During his watch we park days, he had proposed to a colleague Jan Clark, but broke off. He told her tat. He was gain and couldn't marry her, but being so frank with the police in this way was really dangerous, because at the time homosexuality was a felony in great Britain, and so turning was tried and convicted of growth and decency, and he was faced with really terrible choice. Yeah his choice,
or prison or hormone injections of estrogen, so chemical sterilization, and he chose the latter and also lost his security clearance as a result. So no government codes, no government computers and on June seventh, one thousand nine hundred and fifty four he was found dead by his housekeeper with a
We even cyanide laced apple by his side. Now, some of you
eyes the he was assassinated as a security risk, but it's pretty much widely accepted nowadays that touring committed suicide and even then right, and it also accepted that touring did kill himself in
spectacular way so that it would allow his mother to interpret the situation as an accident sense he'd been working with cyanide and other chemicals and his work. We are so she thought that he had some cyanide on his hands and he ate an apple and accidently poisoned himself, but of assuming he did commit suicide, which is what most people assume. It's really tragic, and too
do this great life and in at the heels of this terrible prosecution. This episode of stuff you missed in history class is brought to you by Sakara. Then here's a really good time to take stock and change your habits because we all want to be our best.
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sakura dot com, history Sol in two thousand and nine Prime Minister, Gordon Brown issued a formal apology for the british government's treatment of touring and I'm going to read this part of it. He said touring truly was one of those individuals. We can point to his unique contribution to help to turn the
of war the debt of gratitude, his makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so in humanely and on behalf of the
british government and all those who live freely. Thanks to our work, I am very proud to say we're sorry, you deserve so much better
two thousand twelve. As Alan Turing Year, an estate side recognition has been
long standing, the? U S, association for computer machinery has given out the Turing award since nineteen sixty six and if anything
yes, technology develops in new areas of steady emerge. Alan turing would probably just become more recognised as the years go on yeah. If you think about how many career descriptions that apply to his name. We know father of artificial intelligence, that sort of thing that didn't exist,
when he was alive. We can only imagine that more will be added over the years of science and technology transfer
thank you so much for joining us for this Saturday. Classic cynicism.
the archive, if you heard an email address or facebook? U R, l or something similar during the course of the show that may be obsolete now. So here is our current contact information we're at history podcast at Helstone,
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